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Supreme Court votes to allow Alabama voting maps to remain in place

Supreme Court votes to allow Alabama voting maps to remain in place
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday voted 5-4 to overturn a district court's ruling ordering Alabama to redraw election maps found to have violated the Voting Rights Act. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a congressional voting maps drawn up by Alabama Republicans can remain in place.

The high court voted 5-4 to maintain the maps, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing that a lower court's order to have the maps redrawn so close to election day could lead to "disruption and unfair consequences for candidates, political parties, and voters, among others."

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"The District Court's order would require heroic efforts by those state and local authorities in the next few weeks and even heroic efforts likely would not be enough to avoid chaos and confusion," Kavanaugh wrote.

The case is the first to reach the Supreme Court involving redrawing of political boundaries with 2020 census results, which showed Alabama's Black population increased by about 4% while the white population declined by about 2%.

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Three judges of the Alabama district court unanimously ruled late last month that the new congressional maps violated the Voting Rights Act by not accurately reflecting the state's demographics.

Kavanaugh said the court acted in order to maintain the status quo as justices consider the issue. The court also said it will hear arguments over the lower courts ruling that the new maps should be void when its new term begins in the fall.

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He added that the court's order "does not make or signal any change" to voting rights law.

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Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's three liberal justices in dissent, writing that while he agreed the court should take up the case to "resolve the wide-ranging uncertainties" surrounding the map next month, he would have allowed the lower court's ruling to remain in place throughout the appeals process.

"The District Court properly applied existing law in an extensive opinion with no apparent errors for our correction," Roberts wrote.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a separate dissent on behalf of herself and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor that the court was went "badly wrong" in granting a stay of the lower court's ruling and accepting Alabama's challenges "would rewrite decades of this court's precedents" regarding protections of the Voting Rights Act.

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"It does a disservice to Black Alabamians who under that precedent have had their electoral power diminished -- in violation of a law this Court once knew to buttress all of American democracy," she wrote.

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