(Feb. 8) The Supreme Court was right this week to reinstate Alabama’s congressional maps for the 2022 election. But, on full review, the court should go even further. So should Congress. It’s time for everyone to stop obsessing about race in the drawing of legislative districts.

A 5-4 majority kept the lines drawn by the state Legislature on the narrowest of grounds. And three justices in the middle said the redistricting questions in Alabama are a complicated, close call.

With so little time remaining before the scheduled party primaries in May, the controlling justices for the majority, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito, essentially said the benefit of the doubt goes to the state Legislature that drew the lines on which candidates currently rely. In sum, the temporary tie goes to the lawmakers. In a carefully hedged dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts essentially said the benefit of the doubt should go to the lower court that wants to redraw the lines. In sum, the tie would go to the judges.

That’s it. The wailing and gnashing of teeth about an allegedly huge blow to “voting rights” is just so much foofaraw. The practical result of this week’s order to “stay” the lower court’s ruling is that, for one more election, Alabama’s congressional districts will remain substantially the same as they have been for 30 years, all with repeated federal court approval as being fully in line with both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The status quo ante will continue, with one of the seven Alabama districts featuring a population that is majority black. (Plaintiffs wanted two majority-black districts.)

There has been no change in the Constitution or the applicable part of the Voting Rights Act in those three decades and only the slightest growth in the percentage of Alabama’s population that is black. So how, pray tell, were the new districts a gross civil rights violation when the same arrangement under the same circumstances wasn’t a civil rights violation before? It was a ridiculous contention…. [The full column is here.]


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