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Lead plaintiff Evan Milligan before the Supreme Court (on October 4, 2022)

Photo: Patrick Semansky / AP

The U.S. state of Alabama has to reorganize its constituencies. This is the result of a decision by the Supreme Court. The judges thus ruled in favor of black voters and confirmed a ruling from a lower court.

The background to the lawsuit is the 2021 electoral map for the state. According to the study, black voters have a majority in only one of seven constituencies – although 27 percent of the population in the region is black. The judges on the Supreme Court see this as discrimination and thus followed the arguments of the plaintiffs. Alabama must now create a second electoral district with a majority black electorate.

The drawing of constituencies for the benefit of a political party, called gerrymandering, has a long tradition in the USA. African-Americans vote for the Democrats by a large majority. In Alabama and many other states, the majority of whites vote Republican. As recently as last year, elections were held according to the constituency map that has now been contested. By the time of next year's presidential elections, the layout of the districts will have to be revised.

Conservative judges surprisingly support decision

The verdict is considered surprising. The Supreme Court is dominated by conservative judges. Now two judges from the conservative camp sided with their liberal colleagues. The verdict was decided by a vote of 5:4.

Democratic Attorney General Merrick Garland welcomed the ruling: "Today's decision rejects efforts to further undermine fundamental protections of voting rights and upholds the principle that all eligible voters in the United States must be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote free from discrimination based on color."

»Today is a victory for democracy and freedom«

Evan Milligan, a black voter and the lead plaintiff in this case, called the verdict a victory for democracy and the non-white population. "We are grateful that the Supreme Court has upheld what we knew: that everyone deserves it, that their voice counts and that their voice is heard. Today is a victory for democracy and freedom, not only in Alabama, but throughout the United States," said Milligan.

Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said in a statement that state lawmakers would follow the ruling. "Regardless of our disagreement with the Court's decision, we are confident that the Alabama Legislature will redefine constituency boundaries to ensure that the people of Alabama are represented by legislators who share their beliefs while meeting the requirements of applicable law," Wahl said.