Hogan Lovells scores major Supreme Court victory for Alabama voting rights
Washington D.C., 8 June, 2023 – A team from global law firm Hogan Lovells helped secure a major victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, which today affirmed a three-judge trial court’s ruling that a 2021 redrawing of Alabama’s congressional districts was shown to violate the Voting Rights Act because it diluted the power of Black residents.
In a 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts was joined in the majority by Associate Justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Writing for the majority, Judge Roberts wrote: "A district is not equally open, in other words, when minority voters face — unlike their majority peers — bloc voting along racial lines, arising against the backdrop of substantial racial discrimination within the state, that renders a minority vote unequal to a vote by a nonminority voter,"
The decision came in an appeal by the State of Alabama from a unanimous January 2022 decision in which a three-judge panel ordered the state to draw a new map which included either a second majority-Black district or an additional district in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice. The map the state enacted in the fall of 2021 included only a single majority-Black district, District 7, which includes part of Birmingham and some of the Black Belt in Alabama, while drawing district lines that disperse small numbers of Black voters in Alabama among the remaining districts. While Black Alabamians comprise 27% of the state’s population, they have a meaningful influence in who is elected only from District 7, and not the other six congressional districts.
The Supreme Court’s ruling affirmed the preliminary injunction entered in a lawsuit filed in November 2021 on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries, the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, and several individuals who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Hogan Lovells LLP, and Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher & Goldfarb.
Hogan Lovells partner Jessica Ellsworth stated: “We are pleased that the Supreme Court today strongly reaffirmed important precedent interpreting section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and affirmed the unanimous decision of a three-judge trial court which had granted a preliminary injunction requiring that the State of Alabama redraw its Congressional districts to comply with that Act and that precedent.”
Further details on the case can be found at SCOTUSblog here.
The Hogan Lovells team consisted of partners David Dunn (New York), Jess Ellsworth, Shelita Stewart (both Washington, D.C.), and Michael Turrill (Los Angeles), counsel Jo-Ann Sagar (Washington, D.C.), senior associates Blayne Thompson (Houston) and Harmony Gbe (Los Angeles), and associates Johannah Walker (Washington, D.C.), Shannon Zhang (New York), and Jay Ettinger (Los Angeles).