After several days of bad news on the redistricting front, including a bad decision in North Carolina for the GOP-drawn map there, a big win has been delivered to Republicans. The US Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 to halt a lower court order in Alabama that it must redraw its previously passed Congressional map.
That means a 6-1 Republican to Democrat map will now go into effect in 2022, and given the makeup of the Supreme Court, there's no reason to believe it gets struck down at any point past that.
BREAKING: By a 5–4 vote, with Roberts joining the liberals in dissent, the Supreme Court halts a lower court order that required Alabama to redraw its congressional map, which diluted Black votes in violation of the Voting Rights Act.— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) February 7, 2022
The SCOTUS stay is obviously a huge win for Republicans and a blow to a coalition of Dems/civil rights groups seeking an additional Black opportunity seat in AL (and LA/SC). The 6R-1D GOP map will stand for 2022, and possibly longer.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) February 7, 2022
As one of my RedState colleagues previously speculated, challenging the Alabama map on the grounds of the Voting Rights Act was a total miscalculation for Democrats. They were always an underdog in stopping the GOP map in Alabama, but worse for them, the court has also granted cert to the case, with a full decision likely to come in 2023. That decision is unlikely to be kind to those who want to keep weaponizing the VRA to produce Democrat-stacked maps while not allowing Republicans to gerrymander.
What that means is that not only did Democrats lose in this specific instance, but they could lose a lot more, all across the country in regards to their use of racial quotas for congressional districts once a final decision is delivered.
It doesn't take a legal genius to see that a court skeptical about the idea of racial quotas (for the Roberts-doubters, I'd point you toward his record on affirmative action and various voting rights grifts as well as his opinions acknowledging that no matter how virtuous the intent, the government can't make decisions based primarily on race) that has already done away with “pre-clearance” isn't very far away from saying that unless you can prove that diluting the minority vote was the intent of drawing a district, the state's version of the map prevails.
The potential irony of this decision is just too much to contemplate. Activist groups suing Alabama over a 30-year-old district map could potentially destroy the racial gerrymandering grift for the entire country.
That's exactly what appears to be happening, and while Justice John Roberts wussed out as usual in the decision to lift the order, his dissent notes that he believes the only holdup is that the court needs to tear apart past bad precedent before he flips. In other words, he's likely to join a 6-3 majority next year in delivering a decisive blow to Democrat attempts to rig the gerrymandering process (i.e. where they can draw 22-4 D to R maps in New York but Republican states can't return the favor).
This was always the danger of going scorched earth on GOP redistricting attempts. The Supreme Court is not favorable to the left's point of view on the VRA. By not just letting things slide in Alabama, Democrats will now pay a far steeper price than just losing one seat down South. You can expect Republicans in North Carolina to also seek relief from the Supreme Court after the ridiculous decision there last week. It's open season now, and while Democrats were busy spiking the football on redistricting, the game obviously isn't over yet.
In short, this decision sets up the coming death blow for many of the unconstitutional provisions of the VRA that have long given Democrats an unfair way to stack the deck. If gerrymandering is legal, and it absolutely is, then it should be available to both sides equally. To the victor goes the spoils.