Supreme Court reinstates Alabama's GOP-backed congressional voting map which will likely be in place for the 2022 midterms

Supreme Court reinstates Alabama's GOP-backed congressional voting map which will likely be in place for the 2022 midterms
Demonstrators hold up a sign as they participate in the Moral March over voting rights, in Washington on June 23, 2021.Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court on Monday reinstated a GOP-backed congressional map in Alabama.
  • A lower court previously ruled the map in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The US Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked the creation of a second majority-Black congressional voting district in Alabama — reinstating a map that a lower court previously ruled was in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The 5-4 decision followed an emergency appeal from Alabama, which challenged a ruling made by a three-judge lower federal court in January. The lower court panel, which included two judges appointed by former President Donald Trump, determined that the Voting Rights Act requires any state with a population of more than one-fourth Black to have two majority-Black districts.

The reinstated map draws only one of Alabama's seven congressional districts to include a majority of Black voters, despite the state's demographic makeup being more than a quarter African-American.

The justices on Monday ruled in favor of staying the lower court's decision as the case moves forward. Arguments in the case will likely happen next fall, meaning Alabamian voters will almost certainly be stuck with the reinstated map through the 2022 midterm elections.

A final ruling in the case could have significant implications for the Voting Rights Act, possibly undercutting the legislation's reach further.


Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's three liberal judges to dissent. Roberts, along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer, were in favor of allowing the 2022 election to happen according to the new map approved by the lower court.

But in a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, along with Justice Samuel Alito, argued that the court's decision was necessary to avoid substantial changes to voting rights law so soon before an election.

"When an election is close at hand, the rules of the road must be clear and settled," Kavanaugh wrote. "Late judicial tinkering with election laws can lead to disruption and to unanticipated and unfair consequences for candidates, political parties and voters, among others."

In his own dissent, Roberts disagreed with the court's decision to grant a stay while acknowledging the validity of hearing Alabama's appeal.

The other three dissenting justices provided their own rationale, arguing the court's ruling constitutes a disservice to both the lower court, as well as Black Alabamians who "had their electoral power diminished."