House Democrats are in a much better position to either trim their already slim minority next year or retake control of the chamber during the 2024 elections following a huge Supreme Court ruling regarding congressional district maps on Thursday.
In a 5-4 ruling in Allen v. Milligan, the high court ordered Alabama to redraw its congressional map after ruling that the initial one following the 2020 Census violated the Voting Rights Act. The court ordered the map to include “an additional black majority district to account for the fact that the state is 27% black,” CNN reported.
As such, the Cook Political Report updated five House seat races per the Daily Caller:
The new rating shifts Alabama’s 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts, which cover the cities of Mobile and parts of Montgomery, the state capital, from a rating of “Solid R” to “Toss Up.” The new ratings are significant swings from the seats’ previously strong Republican ratings and suggest that Democrats may pick up seats in the newly-drawn districts, whose boundaries are yet to be finalized per the ruling.
Of the 435 voting seats in the House, 222 are held by Republicans and Democrats hold 212 seats.
Republicans only have a 4-seat majority, which means if Democrats were to win all 5 of those races that just shifted in their favor, they would win back control of the House in 2024.
There’s still a long way to go before the election next year, but the news is unsettling for Republicans.
“For now, we are making five House race rating changes,” the Cook Political Report noted on Twitter.
“The landmark decision in Allen v. Milligan could reverberate across the Deep South, leading to the creation of new black-majority, strongly Democratic seats in multiple states,” David Wasserman for the Cook Political Report wrote.
In an additional update, the Cook Political Report changed the rating of three more seats in various states to “Toss Up” status.
Among these seats are Louisiana’s 5th District, currently held by Republican Rep. Julia Letlow, and the 6th District, represented by Republican Rep. Garret Graves. Notably, Graves recently played a significant role as one of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s key negotiators on the Fiscal Responsibility Act aimed at addressing the issue of raising the debt ceiling.
“Louisiana’s congressional map has not been overturned by any court, and the 5th and 6th Districts had Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) scores of R+17 and R+19, respectively, during the 2022 midterm elections,” the Caller noted.
SCOTUS Blog, which tracked the ruling in real-time, noted on Thursday, “A three-judge district court held in this case that the challengers demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success on their claim that Alabama’s congressional maps violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans discrimination in voting. The court today upholds that determination.”
In Part III of the decision, which he authored, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the “heart of these cases is not about the law as it exists. It is about Alabama’s attempt to remake our [Section] 2 jurisprudence.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with the court’s liberals and Roberts, “says that he agrees that Alabama’s redistricting plan violates Section 2 as interpreted in Thornburg v. Gingles. He has four separate points to make,” SCOTUS Blog noted, adding:
First, he says, courts should generally not overrule statutes — that’s for Congress to do.
Second, he says, contrary to what the state says, Gingles does not require a proportional number of majority-minority districts.
Kavanaugh rejects the idea that courts should rely on race-blind computer simulations. He said that would be helpful to detect the presence or absence of intentional discrimination, but the VRA establishes an effects test, rather than an intent test.
Finally, Kavanaugh rejects the argument that requiring race-based redistricting violates the Constitution.
Justice Thomas dissents, joined by Justices Gorsuch in full and Justices Barrett and Alito in part.
“We are content to reject Alabama’s invitation to change existing law,” Roberts said, according to CNN.
A decade ago, Roberts weakened a different section of the Voting Rights Act which mandated that states with a history of discrimination seek federal approval before making any changes to their election laws, the network noted further.