By Gram Slattery
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A surprise Supreme Court ruling on Thursday gave Democrats a potential boost in the 2024 congressional race by challenging the constitutionality of Republican electoral districts across the southern United States.
In the 5-4 ruling, the court ruled in favor of black voters who challenged a Republican-drawn electoral map in Alabama, finding the state violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination race in voting.
It could force Alabama to redesign its seven House districts so that two contain black majorities or near majorities, compared to one now. Analysts said that would give Democrats a greater chance of winning seats in the South, where the vote is often broken down by race.
The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election analysis group in Washington, said two congressional seats in Alabama and two in Louisiana were now “toss-ups”, meaning either party could win. All four seats had been considered solidly Republican.
The organization also said a competitive seat in North Carolina now favors the Democrats.
Republicans currently control the House with a narrow majority of 222 to 212, so even small adjustments to the electoral map can have an impact.
Democrats said the decision would give them a greater chance of winning back the chamber in the November 2024 election.
“This decision will affect redistricting cases across the country and help build a House of Representatives that better reflects the diversity of our nation,” said Suzan DelBene, chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm.
Republicans said it would not affect their prospects.
“The Democrats’ transparent political strategy for rigging the game is to ‘go on until it’s blue,'” said Jack Pandol, spokesman for the House Republican campaign arm.
Rep. Terri Sewell, the only Democrat on Alabama’s congressional delegation, told reporters she expects the state to redraw its districts before the 2024 election. Some reliable Democratic voters will likely transfer from her district to the new headquarters, she said.
“It’s a small price to pay for fairer representation in the state of Alabama,” she said on a press call.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; additional reporting by Moira Warburton; editing by Andy Sullivan and Stephen Coates)