Following a significant Supreme Court decision on Thursday addressing congressional district lines, House Democrats are in a far stronger position to either reduce their already thin minority next year or retake control of the house during the 2024 elections.
The Supreme Court ruled in Allen v. Milligan that the initial congressional map created after the 2020 Census violated the Voting Rights Act, and on a 5-4 vote, ordered Alabama to redraft its map. The court mandated the construction of “an additional black majority district to account for the fact that the state is 27% black,” according to CNN.
As a result, according to the Daily Caller, the Cook Political Report updated five House seat races:
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.
Republicans possess 222 of the 435 voting seats in the House, while Democrats hold 212 of the seats.
Democrats would regain control of the House in 2024 if they were to win all five of the races that recently flipped in their favor because Republicans only hold a 4-seat advantage.
Despite the fact that there is still a long way to go before the election next year, the news worries Republicans.
“For now, we are making five House race rating changes,” the Cook Political Report noted on Twitter.
— Nathaniel Rakich (@baseballot) June 8, 2023
David Wasserman for the Cook Political Report wrote, “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.”
Three more seats in various states were downgraded by the Cook Political Report to “Toss Up” classification in a subsequent update.
The 5th District of Louisiana, presently held by Republican Rep. Julia Letlow, and the 6th District, currently held by Republican Rep. Garret Graves, are two of these seats. Notably, Graves recently participated in crucial negotiations on the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which addressed the problem of lifting the debt ceiling, as one of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s key negotiators.
“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.
“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,” said SCOTUS Blog, which followed the decision in real-time on Thursday. Today, the court maintains that finding.
Chief Justice John Roberts stated in Part III of the decision 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.”
When it comes to whether Alabama’s redistricting scheme violates Section 2 as it was construed in Thornburg v. Gingles, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who voted 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.
The Voting Rights Act required that states with a history of discrimination seek federal approval before changing any of their election regulations, but Roberts reduced that provision a decade ago, the network reported.