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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a case that will decide whether the state of Alabama's 2021 congressional redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act, on Tuesday, October 4.

A ruling by federal judges in January ordered the state to draw a new map with two majority-black districts, concluding that the state's original plan—which contained only one such district—likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. 

A divided, 5-4 Supreme Court ruling put that order on hold in February, allowing the state to implement its original plan for the 2022 midterm elections and set the case for oral argument on October 4.

"I'm gratified that the Supreme Court has stepped in to halt the district court's order, which would have resulted in a congressional map that would have unconstitutionally divided Alabamians based on race," Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, a Republican, said in February. "As we have explained throughout this litigation, Alabama's 2021 plan is an ordinary plan that looks much like the plan approved by a federal court in 1992, the plan approved by a majority-Democratic legislature in 2001, and the plan approved by a majority-Republican legislature in 2011."

Marshall, in a brief filed in the case on August 24, argued that the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting rules abridging or denying voting rights "on account of race," not an affirmative obligation to redistrict "on account of race."

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) filed a brief on July 18 asking the court to uphold the preliminary injunction opposing Alabama's 2021 redistricting map, saying "majority-minority and crossover districts play a critical role in increasing meaningful representation, advancing racial integration, and remedying past discrimination."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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