The ruling by the high court increases Republican chances of holding six of seven state seats in the House of Representatives.
The court's action, by a 5-4 vote, means the upcoming elections will be conducted under a map drawn by Alabama's Republican-controlled legislature that contains one majority-Black district, represented by a Black Democrat, in a state in which more than a quarter of the population is Black.
A lower court of three judges, including two former President Donald Trump-appointed judges, ruled that the state likely violated federal Voting Rights Act. They had created a second district where Black voters were a majority or close to it, and diluted their political power.
Part of the conservative majority, Justices Brett Kavanaugh, and Samuel Alito said that the lower court was too close to 2022's election cycle.
Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by his three liberal colleagues in dissension.
Justice Elena Kagan, in dissension, wrote that the justices will decide at a later date whether the state's map violates the landmark voting rights legislation. This case could put into question "decades" of Court precedent regarding Section 2 of the VRA.
This decision will presumably govern elections from 2024 to the end of the decade, in Alabama. It could also affect minorities' representation elsewhere in the country.
Following the 2020 census results, Alabama legislators redrawed the state's congressional districts. Many voters filed suit, claiming that the new maps reduced the voting power for Black residents.
The judges unanimously ruled in January that the group was likely to prove that the state had violated Voting Rights Act. The panel directed lawmakers to redraw districts to ensure that Black voters are a majority in at least two of the districts. Not one. The ruling lasted more than 200 pages.
The panel stated that they did not consider the question "close to being answered."
Alabama requested that the Supreme Court suspend the ruling while it appeals. The justices granted their request. The state claimed that it created the new map using race-neutral principles, and that it is identical to previous maps.
A brief was filed by more than 12 Republican-led states requesting that the justices side with Alabama and allow it use the original maps.
Deuel Ross was a lawyer representing Alabamians and sued. He called the state's congressional district "a textbook case for a Voting Rights Act violations" and stated that the high court's decision not to intervene was disappointing.
Ross, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund wrote an email to The Associated Press stating that the facts were clear. He stated that "Alabama’s current congressional map is in violation of the Voting Rights Act." "The litigation will continue and we are confident that Black Alabamians can eventually get the congressional map that they deserve -- one that accurately represents all voters."
Roberts, who is known for voting against race considerations, stated that he shared some of Alabama's concerns but would still have allowed the redrawn district to govern the 2022 election, and future elections to be governed by the outcome of the case.
Kavanaugh wrote to explain his vote and said that the court had repeatedly refused to alter the rules in close proximity to elections.
The rules of the road must be established and clear when an election is near. Late judicial tinkering can cause disruption and unanticipated, unfair consequences for candidates and political parties. It's one thing for a State to play with its election laws in the days leading up to an election. It is quite another for a federal court, however, to intervene and re-do State's election laws during the time close to an election," Alito wrote in an opinion Alito signed.
Kagan criticized Kavanaugh's decision and noted that the lower court had ruled months before any votes would be cast.
She criticised the conservatives for using an emergency process called the shadow docket to "signal or make changes in law, without any approach to full briefing and argument."