IU Law Prof: SCOTUS Creates Voting Rights 'Ripple Effect'
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
District lines for Indiana's nine congressional districts are locked in through 2030, but U.S. Supreme Court decisions spell out to state lawmakers they do not have ultimate control over drawing those lines.
The high court has found what's known as the "independent state legislature" theory will not stand, and attempts to diminish the voices of minority voters will not be tolerated.
Steve Sanders, professor of law at Indiana University, noted while there are no current challenges to Indiana's congressional maps, the high court rejecting redistricting maps in Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina is a signal to all states the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 remains viable.
"Nothing immediate," Sanders stressed. "It probably, only in the sense that it gives some caution to Indiana -- and every state, when it goes through the every-ten-year process of redrawing its congressional districts -- it has to be sensitive to how it deals with matters of race."
Opponents argued during redistricting, they were careful to avoid splitting counties and cities between multiple districts as much as possible. But it is clear the makeup of Indiana and other states is changing. According to the 2020 Census, fewer Hoosiers identified as white than in 2010. The state's white population fell six points to 75.5%, while Black and Hispanic populations have grown.
Sanders feels many Supreme Court watchers may have been caught off guard with the court's action.
"Pessimists thought that trend would continue with the Alabama decision, and it didn't," Sanders observed. "The Supreme Court underscored and essentially reiterated the importance of some of its key precedents there, and suggested that Alabama had done some bad things."
The North Carolina case was being closely watched for its potential impact on next year's presidential election.
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