Alabama’s racist redistricting, GOP officials, and right-wing Supreme Court tied together by dark money
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., points to a poster depicting a list of funders of the Federalist Society as he questions President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh during the latter's confirmation hearing. New reporting shows Federalist Society Leonard Leo heads up a network of dark money connecting efforts to keep racist redistricting maps in place in Alabama with the right-wing Supreme Court. | Andrew Harnik / AP

Republican officials in Alabama and the GOP-majority state legislature are coordinating with extreme right-wing groups and think tanks at the national level to undermine the Voting Rights Act and defy court orders when it comes to racist redistricting.

That is according to an investigation released by the Alabama Political Reporter (APR). The outlet’s damning report also spotlights the seemingly bottomless corruption of the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court majority and its connections to a vast dark money network.

The U.S. Supreme Court, to the surprise of many, ruled in favor of the three-judge lower District Court that found the Alabama congressional redistricting map illegally denied a second majority African American district based on Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlaws voting practices that discriminate based on race. The Alabama legislature then openly defied the courts by adopting the same racist gerrymandered map again.

When Republican Gov. Kay Ivey okayed the “redrawn” map, she stated, “The Legislature knows our state, our people, and our districts better than the federal courts or activist groups, and I am pleased that they answered the call, remained focused, and produced new districts ahead of the court deadline.”

On Sept. 5, the lower Court agreed to a challenge by voting rights advocates that the second map violated the VRA. And on Sept. 11, Alabama filed a motion before the Supreme Court to put a hold on the lower court order, which is where the matter stands.

According to APR reporting, GOP state Attorney General Steve Marshall and the GOP-dominated legislature are coordinating with the right-wing network headed by Federalist Society President Leonard Leo. They reportedly have “intelligence” that Justice Brett Kavanaugh will agree to the U.S. Supreme Court rehearing challenges to Section 2 and ultimately strike it down. The plot includes the defiance, delay, and new appeal to the High Court.

Leo and his right-wing network are responsible for the strategy of radically remaking the High Court, vetting Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, driving their confirmation, and coordinating the unprecedented scale of corruption and bribery of the six with gifts worth millions of dollars fronted by right-wing billionaires.

On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court in Allen v Milligan upheld, by 5-4, Section 2 of the VRA. “Section 2 prohibits any voting law, practice or map that results in the denial of the right to vote of any citizen on account of race,” according to Democracy Docket. “In a major victory for voters, the majority affirmed a lower court’s decision that blocked Alabama’s congressional map for likely violating Section 2, paving the way for the state to add an additional majority-Black district.”

Courts are hearing 32 lawsuits in ten states related to Section 2. In addition to redistricting in Alabama, the ruling could create additional majority African-American districts in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Adding majority African American congressional districts could ensure a majority Democrat House of Representatives in 2024.

“Alabama’s understanding of [Section 2] would require abandoning four decades of the Court’s [Section 2] precedents…We accordingly decline to recast our [Section 2] case law as Alabama requests,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the majority opinion. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson joined Roberts, while Kavanaugh partially joined the majority opinion.

“The Alabama government’s briefs before the three-judge panel in September referenced a concurring opinion by Kavanaugh that questioned whether ‘race-based redistricting’ can ‘extend indefinitely into the future,’” the APR reported. The right-wing strategy calls for invoking the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the use of affirmative action and race as a criterion for admission to institutions of higher learning, which may happen if the Court decides to rehear the case.

Leo and Alabama GOP Attorney General Marshall connect through the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and its affiliated Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF). Leo’s network funds both groups.

Attorney General Marshall retained the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Consovoy McCarthy to consult on “an undisclosed matter.” The same law firm has represented The Fund 85, a group associated with Leo, which represented Students for Fair Admissions, the group that challenged affirmative action in college admissions at Harvard.

The 85 Fund, previously called the Judicial Education Project (JEP), was also the conduit to move $100,000 to Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, between 2011 and 2012 and possibly continuing for years after that. The JEP submitted a brief in the landmark Shelby County v Holder, which struck down Section 1 of the VRA.

Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb is currently investigating Leo and The Fund 85. Politico reported that the non-profit entity paid Leo’s for-profit company, CRC Advisors, tens of millions over two years since he joined it, not a bad payoff for the chief architect of the right-wing takeover of the courts.

Consovoy attorneys sit on the board of The Marble Freedom Trust, the dark money entity that funds the work of the Federalist Society. Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour, Jr., who was assigned to work with Consovoy on the court appeals, is also a member of the Federalist Society and active in far-right Catholic circles with Leo.

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John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, where he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He currently lives in Chicago.