Wiggins Childs Lawyers Victorious in Voting Rights Lawsuit Before Supreme Court
On Thursday, June 8, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Allen v. Milligan that the Alabama state legislature’s congressional districting map likely violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The 5-4 decision is a major victory for voting rights. Wiggins Childs is proud to have played a role on the brilliant legal team that successfully litigated this historic case from its inception in Alabama to the United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C.
The Voting Rights Act prohibits the “denial or abridgment” of a United States citizen’s right to vote based on race. Thus, a state’s political process should be “equally open” to all voters without diminishing the participation of any minority group. The Court’s opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, affirmed the lower decisions of the District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in the Caster case, and of the three-judge District Court in the Milligan case. In doing so, the Court upheld that Alabama’s new districting plan engaged in the prohibited practice of racial gerrymandering. Despite Black residents totaling 27% of voting-age citizens in Alabama, only one out of the seven districts in Alabama’s congressional map held a Black majority. Alabama consolidated a large number of Black voters into this single district, which principally mirrors the western section of Alabama’s “Black Belt” region. The remainder of Black voters were scattered within the other six districts’ white majorities. The Court ruled this districting plan established racial gerrymandering and violated the Voting Rights Act.
This case is a major victory in preserving the sentiment of the Voting Rights Act nationwide and preventing the unjust practice of racial gerrymandering. By holding that Alabama violated voting rights, the Court acknowledged both racial injustice and, more specifically, the weakening of Black voters within the state. Moreover, the Court not only rejected Alabama’s map, but simultaneously rejected the state’s argument that the Court should consider a “race neutral benchmark” for districting schemes. Had this “race neutral benchmark” been adopted, Alabama’s proposed interpretation could have prevented future challenges to congressional maps based on unjust and racially discriminatory suppressions of political power.
Deuel Ross, Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, delivered the victorious argument in front of the Supreme Court.
Wiggins Childs attorney, Sidney Jackson, played a crucial role in this litigation, serving as co-counsel on the litigation team and local counsel for the out of state forces heading this civil rights battle, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF); the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); Hogan Lovell law firm; and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Each year, the Supreme Court of the United States receives an average of 7,000-8,000 requests for appeal. Only around 1% of these appeals are granted and argued in front of the court.