Good things are happening! The Supreme Court upheld a crucial section in the Voting Rights Act, the EPA is reversing its own bad policies from the Trump era, NYC doctors staged their first strike in thirty years, Southern judges deliver rare rulings in favor of trans rights, and more.
Supreme Court Does The Right Thing For Once
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Thursday to protect the rights of Black voters in Alabama, protecting one of the last remaining voting-rights safeguards, and everyone is shocked.
In Alabama, racist gerrymandering has ensured that only one out of seven congressional districts holds a large enough Black population to elect a Black candidate. Last year, a three-judge court ruled that the map likely violated the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court put the ruling on hold long enough to let Alabama Republicans win six congressional seats. Now they’ve changed their tune, and this week’s ruling upholds Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, calling for a new, representative map including a second majority Black district.
Alabama argued that its maps were “race-neutral,” and if the court had agreed with this logic it would have left a big opening for other states to do even more gerrymandering. But Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the liberal justices in voting to uphold the Voting Rights Act, emphasized that the Act requires political processes to be “equally open” to minority voters in effect, not intent. That means it doesn’t matter whether or not a state intends to be racist if the outcome is a racist map.
The ruling is surprising, since conservative justices have been dismantling voting rights, previously ruled against preventing partisan gerrymandering, and gave oral arguments for this case in October that seemed to hint that the decision would go the other way. Section 2 is one of the few remaining protections against gerrymandered maps, so this is a surprise we love to see.
EPA vs. Chemical Industry
On May 24, the EPA reversed a Trump-era decision on plastic processing, closing a major loophole that allowed the chemical industry to pass off toxic disposal as sustainable recycling.