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SCOTUS Strikes Down Racial Gerrymander in Alabama

Most days, this would have been the lead item. But yesterday wasn't most days, and so this gets pushed down below the fold, metaphorically speaking. Anyhow, in a shocker of a decision, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Alabama congressional district maps are an illegal racial gerrymander and that the state has to go back to having two majority-Black districts, as it had before 2022, as opposed to the current total of one.

The vote was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the three liberals forming the majority bloc. You can read the decision here, if you wish. While everyone agrees that racial gerrymanders are illegal, we are very confused about what exactly constitutes a racial gerrymander, since SCOTUS jurisprudence on the matter has been all over the place. It doesn't much matter if we are confused, of course, but we suspect actual federal judges tasked with implementing these rulings are not going to be much clearer than we are.

And it is a virtual certainty that some of those judges are going to have to try to figure it out, probably sooner rather than later. If the situation in Alabama was not acceptable, there are similar situations in Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas. In all of those cases, there are not as many majority-minority districts as the math says there should be. And in all of those cases, the shortage of majority-minority districts is working in favor of the Republicans. On top of that North Carolina and possibly Ohio are getting ready to redraw their maps in a manner that would likely conflict with yesterday's ruling, and this may stop them from doing it.

Add it all up, and the Democrats almost certainly picked up one seat yesterday, they may pick up several more eventually, and some seats the Party currently holds may unexpectedly be protected. There's a lot of time and potential legal wrangling between now and November 2024, but with such a closely divided House, it's not impossible that this decision lays the groundwork for the blue team to flip the lower chamber. (Z)

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