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Dark money, nullification, and vote suppression


Alabama is ignoring a Supreme Court order to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in part because the money behind the conservative legal movement thinks that Bart O’Kavanaugh is open to ruling Section 2 unconstitutional if they provide a text case:

The Alabama Legislature’s open defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Allen v. Milligan ordering the creation of a second majority-Black district baffled and infuriated the federal three-judge panel that initially ordered the state to redraw its 2021 congressional map. 

APR has now identified connections between Alabama officials who led the 2023 redistricting process — which disregarded the U.S. Supreme Court’s order — with far-right power broker Leonard Leo’s dark money network, described this past week by Politico as “a billion-dollar force that has helped remake the judiciary and overturn longstanding legal precedents on abortion, affirmative action and many other issues.”

APR’s reporting shows the extent to which Alabama’s calculation to defy the Supreme Court was made not simply by state legislators in Alabama but has been driven by nationally connected political operatives at the center of the well-documented right-wing effort to reshape the composition and jurisprudence of the Supreme Court and to overturn the remaining key protections established by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

Despite the organization’s claims that it does not take positions on policies or nominations, former President Donald Trump famously stated that Leo’s Federalist Society had “picked” his judges, and all six Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices “were seated with major help from Leonard Leo,” who has come to be known as the “hidden architect of the Supreme Court.” With few exceptions, the justices Leo has ushered to the bench have reliably voted to permit the partisan gerrymanders and strict restrictions on voting access that have proliferated in recent years from red-state legislatures, which themselves work in tandem with — and sometimes under the direction of — Leo’s dark money groups. 

As APR reported on July 27, Alabama lawmakers working in conjunction with state Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office and Washington D.C. lawyers had “intelligence” that Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh — who voted with the majority in Milligan just weeks ago to order the new maps under the statutory language — is open to rehearing the case as a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. 

Rucho, Shelby County, Citizens United…gifts to opponents of the maintenance of liberal democracy in America that just keep on giving. And those opponents have a lot of money at their disposal. I’m also beginning to think that coverage of the 2016 election suggesting there was nothing of substantive significance at stake may have misinformed voters to some degree.

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