October 5, 2022

Merrill v. Milligan: The Latest Threat to the Voting Rights Act


The Alabama state legislature has consistently denied Black Alabamians the right to elect candidates of their choice. The state’s only majority-Black district was only first created in 1992, following a successful legal challenge under Section 2 of the Voting Right Act. On October 4, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a redistricting case out of Alabama that will allow the Court, which has already substantially weakened the VRA over the past decade, to revisit and potentially further curtail the protections of Section 2 amid growing threats to our democracy.

How will the outcome of this case impact the future of political representation for marginalized communities, majority-minority districts, and litigation seeking redress of voting rights violations? What tools do courts have to rectify the dilution of Black voters’ electoral power, and other marginalized groups’ power, and what tools should they have to address this problem? On Thursday, September 29 the American Constitution Society and the Southern Poverty Law Center convened a briefing on this important case.


Pema Levy, Reporter, Mother Jones (moderator)

Bradley E. Heard, Deputy Legal Director for Voting, Southern Poverty Law Center

Evan Milligan, Executive Director, Alabama Forward, and named respondent in Merrill v. Milligan

Samantha Kelty, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund

Bertrall Ross, Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy, University of Virginia School of Law