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Why Complex Litigation and the Allen v. Milligan Case Matter

By David Dreyer, Esq.

Edited by Anana Harris Parris & Nadia Lowe

Managing Partner

On June 8, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Alabama’s Congressional maps violated Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (Voting Rights Act of 1965 – Wikipedia) because the Alabama Legislature impermissibly packed Black voters in one congressional district, diluting their power to decide two or more congressional seats. The decision in Allen v. Milligan (21-1086 Allen v. Milligan (06/08/2023) (supremecourt.gov) was surprising because two conservative judges, who had previously shown hostility to claims of racial gerrymandering, decided that the Alabama Legislature went too far. NPR1 covered the decision and its impact on civil rights.

This decision proves the old legal adage: alarming facts make good law. Specifically, conduct carried to an extreme can create a cause of action or expand on a cause of action. If something seems manifestly unjust, odds are there is a remedy in the law. This remedy has a price when the road to prosecuting the case is complex. The impact of litigating complex cases with societal justice hanging in the balance is a journey worth taking. Consider the following observations I have made after trying complex cases and learning of the decision in Allen v. Milligan.

  • Along the journey of litigating a complex case, the dissection of the law and how it was accurately enforced or violated can not only shines a light on injustice, but the journey also allows many to follow the breadcrumbs directly to those culprits who routinely use the law as a tool of oppression rather than equality.
  • Conduct carried to an extreme in cases addressing equality can cause societal, communal, familial, and personal damage. This damage, this injury, is so harmful that the result of the extreme conduct can force a person, a family, a community, or even a society to want to give up on justice. We must advocate zealously for all complex litigation issues so those harmed can be simultaneously healed.
  • Complex litigation that requires long hours of research and sometimes years of investigation and trial prep can test the stamina of even the most experienced lawyers. The resources needed and the personal and family time invested can strain any legal team into a disadvantage.
  • Intimidation can be intellectual. I have never run from a case because it was complex, and I would never teach my sons to run. The Allen v. Milligan decision happened because the legal team was not intimidated intellectually. 

It is critical that, as attorneys, we review the details of decisions like Allen v. Milligan. Read more than the final decision. Track the case’s journey and discuss the outcomes so you can learn what resources and stamina you need to begin building throughout your legal career.

National Public Radio LAW Section “Supreme Court unexpectedly upholds provision prohibiting racial gerrymandering” June 8, 2023, by Nina Totenberg https://www.npr.org/2023/06/08/1181002182/supreme-court-voting-rights


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