The consequences of the long-standing Republican plot to pack the Supreme Court with Federalist Society right-wing idealogues are becoming clearer every day.
The effort — which began when then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to even allow Barrack Obama’s pick for an open seat in the waning months of his term to be afforded even a confirmation hearing — resulted in three of Donald Trump’s nominees joining the court and sending it barrelling right-ward, threatening women’s abortion rights as the court considers cases that could reopen the precedent of Roe v. Wade.
Now that same coalition of Republican-appointed, so-called constitutional originalists is threatening to undermine any semblance of fairness in voting rights with their latest ruling.
By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court suspended a lower court ruling that forced the state of Alabama to come up with a new redistricting plan for its congressional districts that would not dilute the influence of the state’s African-American voters.
The ruling leaves in place a plan devised by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature that a lower court had already determined would offer Black voters “less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
“We find that the plaintiffs will suffer an irreparable harm if they must vote in the 2022 congressional elections based on a redistricting plan that violates federal law,” the lower court panel — which was comprised of one Clinton appointee and two Trump appointees — had ruled.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three remaining liberal justices in dissenting from the ruling.
While Justice Roberts issued his own dissenting opinion that meekly stated that “the District Court properly applied existing law,” Justice Elena Kagan, in her opinion on behalf of her other liberal colleagues, went much further in condemning the majority ruling, calling it “a disservice to Black Alabamians who under [Supreme Court] precedent have had their electoral power diminished — in violation of a law this Court once knew to buttress all of American democracy.”
Her outrage at least partly stems from the plain facts of Alabama’s demographics which show that the number of African-American residents of the state has grown to 27 percent of the population while the number of White residents has declined.
To accurately reflect the population balance in Alabama, the lower court had ruled that the new redistricting plan should contain at least two districts “in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity” to elect the candidates of their choice.
Under the current congressional map in the state — which, as in every other state, had to be redrawn to reflect the results of the latest census — Democrats have only been able to win in a single of the seven existing districts.
With the majority of the current right-leaning Supreme Court unwilling to consider race as a factor in determining the fairness of electoral maps — and having ruled in 2019 that federal courts should play no role in adjudicating partisan gerrymandering — the final nail seems to be driven into the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
This latest decision only proves how crucial it is to eliminate the filibuster and pass the Democratic Party’s latest voting rights legislation which has been all but marked for dead after both Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) refused to do what was necessary to ensure that legislation’s passage.
You can read the complete decision by the Supreme Court at this link.
Original reporting by Robert Barnes at The Washington Post.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.