"When the Supreme Court considered the challenge to an Alabama congressional map that shortchanged the state’s Black voters, liberal justices expected the conservative majority to side with Alabama – if not gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act altogether.
Instead, the justices emerged from their first closed-door conference meeting on the case in October 2022 without a solid majority for either side, CNN has learned. Ordinarily, this meeting, held without any law clerks or other staff present, results in a clear understanding among the nine justices of which party will prevail in a case. In the Alabama dispute, sources said, it was far from certain which side would win.
What happened next defied predictions from inside and outside the court. A series of negotiations, most notably between Chief Justice John Roberts and fellow conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, transformed what many thought would be a ruling undercutting the Voting Rights Act into a forceful affirmation of the law."