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US Supreme Court rules in favor of black voters in Alabama

US Supreme Court rules in favor of black voters in Alabama

US Supreme Court on Thursday issued a surprising 5-4 ruling in favour of Black voters in a congressional redistricting case from Alabama, with two conservative justices joining liberals in rejecting a Republican-led effort to weaken a landmark voting rights law.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh aligned with the court’s liberals in affirming a lower-court ruling that found a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act in an Alabama congressional map with one majority Black seat out of seven districts in a state where more than one in four residents is Black. The state now will have to draw a new map for next year’s elections.

The decision was keenly anticipated for its potential effect on control of the closely divided U.S. House of Representatives. Because of the ruling, new maps are likely in Alabama and Louisiana that could allow Democratic-leaning Black voters to elect their preferred candidates in two more congressional districts.

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The outcome was unexpected in that the court had allowed the challenged Alabama map to be used for the 2022 elections, and in arguments last October the justices appeared willing to make it harder to challenge redistricting plans as racially discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The chief justice himself suggested last year that he was open to changes in the way courts weigh discrimination claims under the part of the law known as section 2. But on Thursday, Roberts wrote that the court was declining “to recast our section 2 case law as Alabama requests.”