Black leaders applauded the Supreme Court’s Thursday decision to strike down a Republican-drawn congressional map in Alabama for diluting the power of Black voters.
The decision in Allen v. Milligan that the GOP-led state must create a new map with an additional majority-Black district. The current map had seven districts, with only one majority-Black district, despite Black people making up 27 percent of the state’s population.
Thursday’s 5-4 decision saw Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh join the court’s three liberals in the majority.
“Today, the Supreme Court has affirmed and protected the fundamental, constitutional right that our ancestors shed blood, sweat, and tears to secure,” said Janette McCarthy Wallace, general counsel for the NAACP.
The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP was a plaintiff in the case, and it was because of their work, Wallace added, that “Black voters in Alabama have reclaimed their rightful place in the democratic process, granting them the power to shape the future of our nation.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson also commended the chapter for its work and added that the decision was a victory for Black Americans and a “triumph for our democracy.”
“Let me be clear — a proper democracy cannot function without the Black vote,” Johnson said. “Today’s Supreme Court decision acknowledges and aims to correct the relentless suppression of Black votes and voices that has been prevalent in this country for more than 150 years.”
“Now, thanks to this ruling, Black voters in Alabama and supporters of the Voting Rights Act can celebrate,” he added.
But, the NAACP stressed, the fight isn’t over, and it remains “resolute” in pushing the Supreme Court to uphold decisions that empower and uplift Black people.
The Congressional Black Caucus also commended the Court’s decision — but agreed the fight for voting rights doesn’t stop with Thursday’s ruling.
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), chairman of the caucus, said although the decision is a victory for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the ruling “merely preserves the status quo.”
“The fact remains that the Supreme Court previously allowed the same map that they just determined unconstitutionally and systemically diluted Black votes be used in the 2022 election,” Horsford said in a statement. “Moreover, the Supreme Court, through its decisions in Shelby v. Holder, Rucho v. Common Cause, and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, has distorted the voting landscape in a way that has made it easier for states to dilute and suppress the Black vote.”
Horsford vowed the CBC will continue pushing for the passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would expand and strengthen the government’s ability to respond to voting discrimination.
“We will also be leading efforts in the weeks and months to come to ensure Black voters have the access to the ballot box, free and fair elections, and that these unconstitutional congressional districts are redrawn so that we achieve the full representation our constituents are promised, under the law,” he added.
The CBC has also recently started a “Summer of Action” ahead of the 2024 elections, which includes Black voter education and mobilization efforts.