[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday agreed to hear [order list, PDF] two cases challenging Alabama’s redistricting [JURIST backgrounder] plans, consolidating them for one hour of oral argument. In Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama [docket; jurisdictional statement, PDF], the court limited review to question 1:
1(a). Whether, as the dissenting Judge concluded, this effort amounted to an unconstitutional racial quota and racial gerrymandering that is subject to strict scrutiny and that was not justified by the putative interest of complying with the non-retrogression aspect of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act?
1(b). Whether these plaintiffs have standing to bring such a constitutional claim?
In Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama [docket; jurisdictional statement, PDF], the court limited review to question 2: “Whether Alabama’s legislative redistricting plans unconstitutionally classify black voters by race by intentionally packing them in districts designed to maintain supermajority percentages produced when 2010 census data are applied to the 2001 majority-black districts. The US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama ruled [opinion] that the state’s redistricting plans violated neither the Voting Rights Act nor the Constitution.
Redistricting plans are controversial throughout the US, with numerous states’ plans facing court challenges. In January the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision in the case of Kostick v. Nago without issuing an opinion, upholding [JURIST report] the Hawaii state legislature’s redistricting plan. In September a three-judge panel for the US District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that the Obama administration would be allowed to join [JURIST report] the ongoing challenge to Texas’ voter redistricting maps.