The Supreme Court has dealt a heavy blow to efforts — often by the Republican Party — to draw legislative districts that pack black voters into majority black legislative districts in order to elect black representatives.
In a case decided today arising out of Alabama state legislative plans, the Supreme Court held that the Voting Rights Act does not require the preservation and protection of legislative districts with percentages of black voters designed to produce black elected officials. Republicans and black politicians often argue that the Voting Rights Act requires line drawers to preserve proportional black representation by creating districts where black candidates are sure to win election. These plans help Republicans by bleaching out surrounding areas helping to elect Republicans.
Instead, the Court ruled that what must be preserved is the “ability to elect” minority preferred candidates of choice — who need not necessarily be minority candidates themselves. This means legislatures can dip below numeric thresholds which create majority black districts, and not necessarily offend the Voting Rights Act.