WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court handed Republicans a victory this week ahead of the 2022 midterms, allowing a GOP-drawn congressional map in Alabama to remain in place, dashing Democrats’ hopes of picking up a U.S. House seat in the state.
A 5-4 majority of justices on Monday froze a lower court ruling that required Alabama to create a new map with an additional majority-Black district. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented with the high court’s three Democratic appointees.
The Supreme Court order restores Alabama Republicans’ redistricting plan for the state’s primary elections in May and all but guarantees that the map will remain in place for the general elections. The court will hear arguments in the case sometime in its next term, which begins in October.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that the Monday order “is not a decision on the merits.”
“The stay will allow this Court to decide the merits in an orderly fashion — after full briefing, oral argument, and our usual extensive internal deliberations — and ensure that we do not have to decide the merits on the emergency docket,” wrote Kavanaugh, joined by Justice Samuel Alito.
Kavanaugh said that the justices halted the lower court decision because of the Purcell principle, which prohibits federal courts from changing election policies close to an election.
A group of voters and left-wing nonprofits had challenged Alabama’s map as illegal “racial gerrymandering” for creating only one majority-Black district out of seven congressional districts. A three-judge panel, including two federal judges appointed by President Donald Trump, sided with the plaintiffs last month, ruling that the map violated the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
The panel ordered Alabama lawmakers to draw up a second district with a majority of African-American voters within two weeks.
Alabama appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that the order requires a district map “that can be drawn only by placing race first above race-neutral districting criteria, sorting and splitting voters across the State on the basis of race alone.” Justice Kavanaugh signaled in his opinion that the high court may use the case to clarify requirements for majority-minority districts under the VRA.
Alabama’s current map is not expected to result in any political changes. The state is represented by six Republicans and one Democrat in the House.
But Monday’s ruling still reignited calls on the left to pack the Supreme Court with liberal justices and pass Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act, which would mandate no-excuses mail-in voting nationwide and strike down state-level election integrity laws.
The Alabama redistricting case is the court’s first that deals directly with the 2022 elections. The Supreme Court sided with Arizona in a landmark election decision last year that upheld a ban on ballot harvesting and a law that disqualifies votes cast in the wrong precinct.
Democrats’ ‘extreme’ gerrymandering
Left-wing outrage at the Supreme Court’s Monday decision comes as Democrats across the country move aggressively to eliminate Republican congressional seats with gerrymandered redistricting maps.
Last month, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law a map that would eliminate three to four GOP seats in the House of Representatives. The map favors Republicans in just 15 percent of districts, though President Trump won around 40 percent of the state’s popular vote in 2020.
Republican voters slammed the move in a lawsuit asking a court to draw another map. “Allowing this map to be enacted deals a crushing blow to the State’s representative democracy and the faith of the People in those governing them,” the suit said.
In Illinois, a congressional map described as “America’s most extreme gerrymander,” would strip Republicans of two seats. “This is a desperate map from a desperate party,” National Republican Redistricting Trust executive director Adam Kincaid said.
Democrats in California, Oregon, and Maryland have approved similar plans.
Republicans remain heavily favored to take back control of the House in November amid widespread discontent with the Biden administration and Democratic rule in Washington.