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Khadidah Stone Campaign Strategist, speaks on the historic redistricting case Allen v Milligan from AV/AVP TV on Vimeo.

In a historic decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed the vital importance of protecting the democratic rights of all Americans by upholding Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This ruling serves as a resounding victory for the people, ensuring that every citizen’s voice will continue to be heard and respected in our democracy.

The decision came as part of the Allen v. Milligan case in which plaintiffs, including Alabama Forward Executive Director Evan Milligan and Alabama Forward Chief Field and Campaign Strategist Khadidah Stone joined with Shalela Dowdy, Letetia Jackson, Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP to argue that Alabama’s Congressional maps violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. 

The plaintiffs were represented by Legal Defense Fund (LDF), American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama, Hogan Lovells LLP, and Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher & Goldfarb.

When the state legislature drew new maps in November 2021, they failed to create a second majority-minority district despite Alabama having a 27 percent Black voting age population. 

SCOTUS heard oral arguments in the case on October 4, 2022. 

In a surprising 5-4 ruling, SCOTUS said that Alabama’s legislature must redraw the state’s Congressional maps and that race can be used as a factor in redistricting to ensure that people of color have equal voting power. The 2020 Census showed that Alabama’s population is growing more diverse and less white, which means that elected officials should be reflective. 

“Today, we celebrate this victory for BIPOC communities and pro-democracy advocates across the country. We are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld what we knew to be true: that everyone deserves to have their vote matter and their voice heard. Today is a win for democracy and freedom not just in Alabama but across the United States,” Milligan said. “This ruling proves that politicians cannot weaken our community representation by distorting congressional lines, particularly in Alabama and Louisiana. The voters will be heard, and this ruling will help secure our futures. 

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, a cornerstone of civil rights legislation. The Act empowers individuals to challenge discriminatory voting practices and provides essential safeguards to protect against the erosion of voting rights. 

The decision comes a few weeks shy of the 10th anniversary of the Shelby v. Holder decision which rendered Section 5 of the VRA inoperable and left Section 2 as the primary way of litigating redistricting cases. 

By upholding Section 2, the Supreme Court has ensured that marginalized communities will have the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. This decision reinforces the principle that the strength of our democracy lies in its inclusivity and diversity, and that every citizen’s voice deserves to be heard, respected, and counted.

“Today, we rejoice in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Allen v. Milligan, siding with freedom and fair democratic processes in our country. Through the organizing and advocacy efforts of thousands across the country, the Supreme Court has acknowledged the strength of the Voting Rights Act to keep the voices of millions of BIPOC people heard,” said Stone. “This ruling holds our elected officials accountable for their politically motivated actions, and voting rights will be protected in Alabama and across the country because of it. We will not allow anti-democratic attempts to continue to overrule fair representation and continued oppression of Black and Brown people. As we look to what’s to come, we remain focused on the fight ahead in building people power and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and our needs are met. The people will continue to have the final say. We will continue to organize for just and equal access to the ballot box for all — our democracy depends on it, for generations to come.” 

This ruling reinforces the critical role of the Voting Rights Act in protecting democratic processes from discrimination and disenfranchisement. 

“Today’s ruling of the Supreme Court was a significant win for Black voters in Alabama. For years, voters have suffered through severe gerrymandering – and by correcting the congressional lines, Black Alabamians will no longer feel silenced,” said Kynesha Brown, AF board chair. “Our communities can get the equitable funding and support we deserve to help with quality of life matters such as healthcare and education.”

As Americans celebrate this landmark decision, it’s important to remain vigilant in defending voting rights and combating any attempts to undermine the fabric of our democracy. Civic engagement is as important today as it was during the Civil Rights movement. 

“However, we recognize that this fight is far from over. Our Constitution does not explicitly establish the right of voting-age citizens to vote and have their ballots counted – this must change. In order for our traditions of freedom and democracy to continue serving the people, we must have explicitly defined voting rights incorporated into our constitutions and policies at all levels,” Milligan said. “Achieving these goals will require deep community work that will take decades. This movement will ensure the survival of our communities, the judiciary involved in yielding today’s opinion and our country at large. Moving forward, we will continue organizing to ensure that all states draw accurately representative maps that include the say of Black and Brown communities. To Alabamians: We promise to continue mobilizing alongside you to ensure every vote is counted and your voices heard.”

 

 

 

 

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