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Opinion | John Roberts and Racial Gerrymandering



Gerrymandering strictly by race is illegal, so how can it be required? According to Alabama, that’s the question Tuesday at the Supreme Court in Merrill v. Milligan, a case involving the state’s recent redrawing of its U.S. House map. The new districts resemble the status quo, with one majority-black seat in the southeast. The state says it used 2020 Census data merely to enact “race-neutral adjustments for small shifts in population.”

But Alabama has seven House seats, so one majority-black district comes out to 14%, while 26% of the state’s voting-age population is black. A federal court said in January that Alabama is required by the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to create a second majority-black district, which would be 29% representation. Is this the law, or is it another misguided effort in what Chief Justice John Roberts once called a “sordid business, this divvying us up by race”?

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