Home » Kavanaugh ally backs Alabama’s push to gut Voting Rights Act

Kavanaugh ally backs Alabama’s push to gut Voting Rights Act

Alabama Republican officials directly flouted a Supreme Court decision striking down a redistricting map that failed to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey all but admitted that state officials were defying the court when the Legislature produced a new map that failed to create a second district where Black voters could elect their preferred candidate, as the court had ordered. That defiance seems to have been intended to kick the issue back to the Supreme Court in hopes of a different outcome.

A new report indicates that the driving force behind this campaign of defiance is likely Leonard Leo, the billionaire Catholic fundamentalist who has reshaped the Supreme Court through his vast dark-money network and the organization he co-chairs, The Federalist Society. The Alabama Political Reporter reported in July about “intelligence” from D.C. insiders working with state Republicans that Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was the swing majority vote on the initial ruling, was open to rehearing the case and reconsidering one of the last remaining protections of the Voting Rights Act.

Last week, the state asked the Supreme Court to intervene again. The emergency filing zeroed in on Kavanaugh, apparently intending to convince him to flip his vote in their favor. The state’s lawyers “name-checked [Kavanaugh] 10 times,” MSNBC reported, repeatedly quoting this line from his concurrence in the original order: “the authority to conduct race-based redistricting cannot extend indefinitely into the future.” The state’s filing also tied this voting rights issue to the court’s affirmative action reversal, stating that the court’s holding in that case, namely that “‘race-based’ affirmative action in education ‘at some point’ had to ‘end,’” suggested it also must end in “districting.”  

According to the Alabama Political Reporter, those D.C. insiders who allegedly reported Kavanaugh’s openness to rehearing the issue appear to be tied to “D.C.-area law firm Consovoy McCarthy, the firm founded by William Consovoy, a now-deceased former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.” Consovoy McCarthy has deep ties to Leo and his network.

A review of Alabama’s July Legislative Contract Review Agenda shows that the Alabama Attorney General’s Office retained Consovoy McCarthy attorneys to “provide expert analysis, strategic advice, assist in legal research, and review and revise pleadings as needed” regarding an unnamed matter. Consovoy McCarthy has handled many high-profile cases assailing measures to redress racial discrimination on behalf of right-wing groups tied to Leo. For instance, Consovoy McCarthy has repeatedly represented the Honest Elections Project, an alias for The 85 Fund, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) group closely tied to Leo, and it represented the Leo-connected dark money group Students for Fair Admissions in its successful challenge to Harvard’s affirmative action program at the Supreme Court.

The ties between Leo’s larger network, this law firm, and Kavanaugh are many and varied, including Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour, the “attorney assigned to work with Consovoy McCarthy,” according to the outlet. LaCour is a Federalist Society member and former Donald Trump judicial nominee. LaCour’s wife, Alice LaCour, is also a Federalist Society member who served on the confirmation committees for both Kavanaugh and fellow conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.

None of this proves that Kavanaugh is involved in the effort to allow Alabama’s racist gerrymander and effectively gut the Voting Rights Act; that’s resting on that supposed “intelligence” that Alabama Political Reporter sources assert. What is clear is that strands of Leo’s web of dark money are at work here, with the goal of eradicating the scraps of the VRA that still exist. There’s no denying that Kavanaugh owes his lifetime appointment on the court to that network.

Alabama joined forces with Leo’s team to file this as an emergency petition, one that’s decided on the shadow docket. They want the Supreme Court to blow up the VRA behind closed doors—again.

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September 2023