Robert Barnes at WP:
A divided Supreme Court on Monday restored an Alabama congressional map that creates only one district favorable to a Black candidate, and put on hold a lower court’s order that said a second district was necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
Over the objections of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three liberals, its five most consistently conservative justices halted a decision last month by three federal judges. The panel threw out Alabama’s new congressional map, which included only one congressional district with a majority of Black voters even though they make up more than a quarter of the state’s population.
The court’s ruling was a blow to voting rights advocates and Democrats after a series of redistricting wins over the past several weeks. It means the 2022 congressional elections in Alabama will take place under a map drawn by the state’s Republican leaders.
But it also signaled that the court’s more conservative majority is suspicious of a Voting Rights Act precedent that Alabama said requires legislatures to prioritize race over traditional redistricting techniques.
The majority — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — did not provide a reason for stopping the lower court’s decision, which is common when the Supreme Court considers an emergency petition. But Kavanaugh, joined by Alito, wrote separately to say the changes ordered by the lower court came too close to qualifying and primaries for the fall election and could create “chaos.”