What: According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued a surprising 5-4 ruling in favor of Black voters in a congressional redistricting case, ordering the creation of a second district with a large Black population.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court’s liberals in affirming a lower-court ruling that found a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act in an Alabama congressional map with one majority Black seat out of seven congressional districts in a state where more than one in four residents is Black.

Who: Susan Liebell, PhD, Dirk Warren '50 Sesquicentennial Chair and professor of political science and pre-law advisor

"While most media outlets have emphasized that this is a surprise, given Chief Justice Robert’s previous votes on the Voting Rights Act, they have missed that these maps were allowed to be used for the last election – when Democrats and Republicans were fighting over control of the House of Representatives," says Liebell.

"The Supreme Court used what is often called the 'Shadow Docket' to keep the maps in place. The District Court had found the maps unconstitutional and the Supreme Court used the secretive Shadow Docket to overturn. Now, they have sided with the District Court. But, this had political consequences. Republicans could use the maps in the midterm elections in a contentious fight to control the House of Representatives."

When: Zoom/phone interview available upon request

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