Files friend-of-the-court brief in defense of anti-discrimination protections under the Voting Rights Act
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in an amicus brief in Merrill v. Milligan urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject Alabama’s racially gerrymandered congressional map and to uphold long-standing anti-discrimination protections guaranteed under the Voting Rights Act. Although the district court determined in the case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that Alabama’s congressional map resulted in discriminatory vote dilution, the state refuses to draw a fair congressional map that doesn't result in anti-Black discrimination and instead is attempting to scrap decades of legal precedent aimed at protecting the voting rights of all Americans. Specifically, Alabama is now urging the U.S. Supreme Court to, among other things, upend established precedent by requiring that alternative congressional maps submitted by plaintiffs challenging racial gerrymandering — used simply for the purposes of illustrating that there are other viable approaches — ignore race entirely, despite the fact that a core purpose of the Voting Rights Act is to prohibit racial discrimination. In the friend-of-the-court brief, the coalition pushes back on Alabama’s deeply flawed proposal and highlights the amici states’ strong interest in protecting the ability of all voters to make their voices heard.
“You can’t fix racial gerrymandering by pretending race doesn’t exist,” said Attorney General Bonta. “You can’t address gun violence by pretending guns aren’t the problem. You can’t protect life by banning abortion when someone’s life is at risk. The challenges of today can’t be solved by ignoring the facts. But that’s what states like Alabama are doing right now all across the country. They are fighting tooth and nail to undo our rights by rejecting reality. In California, we’re not going to stand idly by. Whether it’s standing up for our democracy, commonsense gun measures, or the right to bodily autonomy, my office will keep on fighting for the rights of all of our communities. In that spirit, we respectfully urge the U.S. Supreme Court to deny this challenge to the Voting Rights Act. The district court already got this decision right.”
Following the completion of the U.S. Census, Alabama, like states across the country, began the decennial process of adjusting its congressional map through redistricting. However, rather than creating an equitable congressional map that complies with the workable standards established under the Voting Rights Act, Alabama sought to institute a map that was determined by the court to result in vote dilution, directly discriminating against Black Alabamians. Although Black voters comprise approximately 27% of Alabama’s population, the state’s congressional map only gave them an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice in 14% of the districts, nearly half as much representation in congressional districts as compared to the Black share of the state’s population.
In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts:
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.