The ruling also seems likely to influence a trial over racial bias in the Georgia congressional map, where plaintiffs also claim the State Legislature’s map diluted Black voting influence in House elections.
Professor Grofman said the new ruling could also have repercussions in a South Carolina lawsuit, now before the Supreme Court, contending that the legislature there had gerrymandered House districts to dilute Black voters’ influence in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
Beyond any transient partisan considerations, though, the ruling on Thursday is notable for preserving — at least for the moment — what remains of the Voting Rights Act.
When it was enacted in 1965, the 11 former Confederate states had a total of three Black state legislators. Today there are roughly 300. Back then, only 475 Black Americans held elective office anywhere in the nation; today, there are more than 640 Black mayors alone, representing 48 million citizens. In 1965, only 6.7 percent of Black Mississippians were registered to vote; three years later, the figure had risen to nearly 60 percent. Black voter turnout in a handful of states — Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana among them — exceeded the turnout by white voters last November.
The act’s reach grew to cover bias against Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other groups, making a law initially aimed at racism in the Deep South equally important in addressing voting rights in Alaska, Utah, Illinois and elsewhere.