Allen v. Milligan

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Election Law
  • Date Filed: June 8, 2023
  • Case #: 21-1086
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part III–B–1. SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, and JACKSON, JJ., joined that opinion in full, and KAVANAUGH, J., joined except for Part III–B–1. KAVANAUGH, J., filed an opinion concurring in all but Part III–B–1. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GORSUCH, J., joined, in which BARRETT, J., joined as to Parts II and III, and in which ALITO, J., joined as to Parts II– A and II–B. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GORSUCH, J., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Gingles framework itself imposes meaningful constraints on proportionality. Forcing proportional representation is unlawful and inconsistent with this Court’s approach to implementing §2.

Alabama was enjoined from implementing a congressional map that had only one district where black voters were the majority after the district court determined it violated §2 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”). Alabama argued that the case law surrounding §2 of the VRA should be recast to rely on race-neutral computer-generated maps for districting (“the race-neutral benchmark”), reasoning that this approach best matched the VRA because it would be a map that never took race into account and thus could not impose obstacles or burdens that block or seriously hinder voting on account of race. Alabama also argued the Gingles framework ultimately required racial proportionality in districting, which was inconsistent with the compromise that Congress struck with the text of §2 and with the Constitution’s prohibition on racial discrimination in voting. Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30 (1986). The Court declined Alabama’s request to recast §2 case law. The VRA requires a state’s §2 liability to be determined “based on the totality of the circumstances.” 52 U.S.C. §10301(b). The Court declined to adopt a new interpretation, finding that Alabama’s suggested view was single-minded and incompatible with the “more refined approach” called for by the VRA. The Court next determined that the Gingles framework imposed “meaningful constraints on proportionality,” a finding supported by surrounding case law. The Court also addressed how the race-neutral benchmark would operate in practice and found: that requiring racially color-blind mapmakers had “no footing” in case law; that courts could not be required “to judge a contest of computers” without a “reliable way to determine who wins;” and that Alabama’s proposal stood in sharp contrast to the established §2 evidentiary standard. The Court finally refused Alabama’s request to stop applying §2 in particular cases as it was irreconcilable with precedent. AFFIRMED.

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