Supreme Court's surprise Voting Rights Act ruling could help Democrats retake the House

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Thursday that Alabama's gerrymandered congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act by depriving Black voters of adequate opportunity to select House members to represent them. Alabama's Republican-controlled Legislature drew new congressional maps in 2021 that left only one of the state's seven districts majority-Black, even though Black voters make up about 27% of Alabama's electorate.

The ruling was something of a surprise. A federal appellate court had ordered Alabama to redraw its map for the 2022 midterms, but the Supreme Court had stepped in and halted the order. And the court has only gotten more conservative since it gutted key parts of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and again in 2020. But Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the 2013 opinion that struck down the heart of the landmark 1965 law, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court's three liberals and preserved Section 2 of Voting Right Acts from Alabama's challenge.

Practically speaking, Thursday's ruling, Allen v. Milligan, will likely net Democrats a House seat in the 2024 election, and maybe two more seats if similar frozen cases in Louisiana and Georgia move forward expeditiously. It could also ripple into Texas, South Carolina, and other Southern states. Cook Political Report already shifted five 2024 House races toward Democrats after the Supreme Court ruling. House Republicans will be defending a narrow five-seat majority in 2024.

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"The next year was already set to include a ferocious series of remapping fights in states across the country," Politico noted. "Republicans are plotting to redraw congressional districts in North Carolina and Ohio, a process that could more than double the GOP's five-seat House majority, and New York and Wisconsin Democrats hope to tilt maps back to their favor."

Democrats and voting rights advocates said the support from Roberts and Kavanaugh seemed tenuous, but they welcomed the survival of what's left of the Voting Rights Act. "I think Alabama and all of the Southern states that might likewise be impacted by this ruling have something to rejoice about," said Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.). "The battle's not over, but it's definitely a step in the right direction and better than we were yesterday."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.