Hello, it’s the weekend. This is The Weekender ☕
This week brought major redistricting news, some of it coming in the wake of the Supreme Court’s red-letter (and totally unexpected) June ruling to nix Alabama’s congressional map as a racial gerrymander.
After Alabama’s loss, the legislators were supposed to go back to the drawing board to add a second district where Black voters have the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice. They…did not.
They passed and Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) signed yet another map with only one majority Black district.
A panel of judges slapped down the “remedial map” on Tuesday.
“We are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires,” the judges wrote, calling the lawmakers’ refusal to comply with federal court orders an “extraordinary circumstance.”
They also note the “lack of political will to respond to the needs of Black voters in Alabama.”
Saying that they have “no reason to believe” that the legislature would produce an adequate map if given another chance, they appointed a special master. Alabama is appealing the decision, and, get this, asking the SUPREME COURT to intervene on its behalf — the same Supreme Court who rejected a very similar map less than three months ago.
Over in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) saw his maximal gerrymander — where he sliced up a Black majority district, to the chagrin of even some Republican legislators — go down in state court. Had he not been intent on humiliating Republicans and proving his governor-king bona fides, he may have accepted their (still gerrymandered!) map which left the Black majority district alone. Now, he faces the horrifying possibility that the map — one of the most extreme partisan gerrymanders in a very gerrymandered country — could be replaced with something (gasp!) even a little bit more fair.
These cases are important on their face: Voter suppression, particularly of Black voters, is one of the most grotesque historical legacies of this country. To the extent that courts can mitigate that disenfranchisement, they should.
Then there’s the political angle. Republicans currently hold the House of Representatives by the barest of majorities. If this round of court action ends with the creation of a handful of Democratic leaning seats — which experts expect — it could level the playing field come 2024.
More on other news below. Let’s dig in.