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Why Supreme Court ruling boosts Democrats’ chances to retake the House in 2024

By Lee Cleveland - June 9, 2023

The recent surprise ruling by the Supreme Court, stating that Alabama Republicans violated the voting rights of Black voters through gerrymandering, could have significant implications for several key states and potentially improve Democrats’ chances of gaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the upcoming election.

Why it matters: Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif) 10-seat majority in the House could be easily overturned. The ruling is expected to add a Democratic seat in Alabama and potentially more in states like Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. This would help counterbalance potential Republican gains in states such as North Carolina and Ohio.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court’s decision found that the Republican congressional map in Alabama, where 27% of the population is Black, violated the Voting Rights Act by dividing majority-Black areas in a way that only one out of the state’s seven districts had a majority of Black residents.

Revising the Alabama map could result in Democrats gaining one seat, and similar legal challenges in other southern states like Louisiana and Georgia might also lead to the drawing of new maps that could benefit the Democratic Party by securing additional seats.

“This could reverberate to LA, SC and/or GA, forcing creation of 2-4 new Black majority districts and netting Dems 2-4 seats,” noted David Wasserman from the Cook Political Report on Twitter.

The ruling might also help Democrats in Texas in the 2024 election, according to Marina Jenkins, executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Commission.

Catch up quick: The Supreme Court ruling coincided with Democrats in New York arguing in court for another opportunity to draw the state’s congressional lines. Previously, an extreme Democratic gerrymander was overturned before the 2022 elections and replaced with a more competitive, court-ordered map, which helped Republicans flip four seats.

If Democrats get the chance to redraw the lines again, at least five Republican seats in New York alone could be at risk, as per Cook Political Report’s analysis.

Control of the House might be vital for Democrats: Unless something in the political landscape changes in the next 16 months, it’s unlikely Democrats will make gains in the Senate in 2024. In fact, they’ll have to perform well to just maintain control.

The other side: Republicans argue that the legal battle to shape the 2024 House map is far from over. They believe they still have the opportunity to gain up to four seats through new maps in North Carolina.

Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, stated that the Supreme Court needs to provide clarity on contradictory precedent regarding redistricting and will likely have several opportunities to do so in the next term before the 2024 election.

A GOP strategist involved in House races pushed back against “liberal irrational exuberance” over the ruling, stating that it is premature to determine the far-reaching effects at this stage.

The bottom line: Every ten years, states redraw congressional districts to account for population changes based on the U.S. Census. However, three years into this redistricting cycle, court decisions threaten to overturn state maps that enabled Republicans to win the House in 2022 and gave McCarthy the speaker’s gavel.