Supreme Court’s Alabama Decision Already Affecting Case That Could Shift Congressional Makeup

Chief Justice John Roberts. Getty Image/TPM Illustration
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Ramifications from the Supreme Court’s surprise Thursday decision to preserve the Voting Rights Act’s protection against racial gerrymanders are already developing in a related case out of Georgia. 

In the hours after the ruling, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones requested “that the parties provide supplemental briefing to address the June 8, 2023 opinion issued by the United States Supreme Court.” 

As legal experts digested the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday, it quickly became clear it could have significant ripple effects. Georgia, along with Louisiana, Texas and, of course, Alabama, are the states experts pointed to as most likely to yield majority minority seats after the Supreme Court’s decision. 

In this particular Georgia case, the Georgia state conference of the NAACP is challenging the state’s congressional and legislative maps as racial gerrymanders under both the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the VRA.

Some of that litigation was also shaped by the Court’s earlier actions on the Alabama case, when, in 2022, it stayed a lower court ruling that would have made the legislature produce a new congressional map before that year’s midterm cycle. 

“Similar litigation in Georgia and Louisiana — where lower court judges said they thought the VRA was probably violated but stayed their own opinions following the signal of the Supreme Court in Milligan — would likely have produced at least one more minority-opportunity district that would have elected a Democrat,” Doug Spencer, an associate professor of law and election law expert at the University of Colorado, told TPM. 

Voting rights advocates celebrated Thursday’s unexpected decision from a Court that’s been consistently hostile to the VRA, and partisans immediately started calculating how the decision may change the 2024 battleground as Democrats try to take back the House. The Cook Political Report, one of the major prognosticators, shifted five House seats in Democrats’ direction just hours after the decision. 

Read Judge Jones’ order here: 

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