Wanted: A Color-Blind Voting Rights Law

This past week in Alabama Black Caucus v. Alabama, the United States Supreme Court, by a five-to-four decision—with Justice Stephen Breyer writing for the four liberal justices plus Justice Kennedy—struck down Alabama’s redistricting plan for its state Senate and House of Representatives under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The issue arose as a result of a confluence of two powerful factors. First, the inevitable shifts in population densities between censuses make current districts noncompliant with the Supreme Court’s exacting numerical identity standard for state district. The second is the change in legislative control from Democrats to Republicans, allowing Republicans to imitate the Democrats after the 2000 census—to create districts with equal populations that will let Republicans nab seats in excess of their percentage of popular support.