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U.S. Supreme Court ruling brightens electoral map for Democrats in 2024

Published 06/09/2023, 06:08 AM
Updated 06/09/2023, 06:15 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building on the first day of the court's new term in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2022.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

By Gram Slattery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A surprise Supreme Court ruling on Thursday has handed Democrats a potential boost in the 2024 congressional race by calling into question the constitutionality of Republican-drawn electoral districts throughout the U.S. South.

In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Black voters who challenged a Republican-drawn electoral map in Alabama, finding the state violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

That could force Alabama to redraw its seven House districts so that two would contain Black majorities or near-majorities, up from one now. Analysts said that would give Democrats a greater chance of winning seats across the South, where voting often breaks down along racial lines.

The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan electoral analysis group in Washington, said two congressional seats in Alabama and two in Louisiana were now "toss-ups," meaning either party could prevail. All four seats had been considered solidly Republican.

The organization also said one competitive seat in North Carolina now favored Democrats.

Republicans currently control the House with a narrow 222-212 majority, so even small adjustments to the electoral map can have an impact.

Democrats said the ruling would give them a greater chance at winning back the chamber in the November 2024 election.

"This decision will affect redistricting cases across the country and help deliver a House of Representatives that better reflects the diversity of our nation," said Suzan DelBene, chair of the Democrats' House campaign arm.

Republicans said it would not affect their prospects.

"Democrats' transparent political strategy to rig the game is to 'sue 'til it's blue,'" said Jack Pandol, a spokesperson for the Republicans' House campaign arm.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building on the first day of the court's new term in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2022.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Representative Terri Sewell, the lone Democrat in Alabama's congressional delegation, told reporters that she expected the state will redraw its districts before the 2024 election. Some reliably Democratic voters will likely get shifted from her district to the new seat, she said.

"This is a small price to pay to get fairer representation in the state of Alabama," she said on a press call.

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