Supreme Court strikes down redrawn North Carolina districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders

North Carolina's Voter ID Law Is Dead

North Carolina's Voter ID Law Is Dead

The decision upheld a lower court's ruling from last February.

On May 15th, it was the state's voter laws.

Voting rights advocates said the ruling supports their arguments in yet another case pending before the Supreme Court that challenges North Carolina's state legislative districts.

At issue in the case was whether two congressional districts drawn by the North Carolina General Assembly were unconstitutional "racial gerrymanders".

Justice Neil Gorsuch did not part in the decision.

The 12th wasn't alone in this particular case.

The two majority-black congressional districts originated in the 2010 redistricting of North Carolina Congressional districts. These two districts have historically been ones with high concentrations of minority voters.

"The law is now settled that states can not use race as a predominant factor in drawing congressional districts or legislative districts".

This seems to be a much more realistic approach to the interrelated matters of race and party than the court's earlier treatment of them as either-or propositions for purposes of assessing the legality of gerrymandering. Indeed, in related cases, the Supreme Court has consistently rejected the notion that mapmakers are required to create districts with majority-black populations. Therefore, it was an illegal racial gerrymander.

Today's ruling will likely set the stage to stand as a precedent against voter suppression in future rulings, though I'm not holding my breath on Justice Thomas maintaining his conscience.

The justices found that the manner in which the North Carolina voting district boundaries were sketched violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said the state did not offer compelling justifications to justify its reliance on race in either district.

The 2-1 ruling singled out Travis County, which was broken up into five congressional districts - four held by Republicans and one by a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin. "That Justice Kagan got Justice Thomas not only to vote this way but to sign onto the opinion (giving it precedential value) is a really big deal". Please stay inside the lines when you draw your next map.

In her opinion for the court, Kagan explained that racial gerrymandering challenges like this one boil down to two questions. If it's politics, it's fine. But that's not all.

Hasen is the chancellor's professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine and the author of "Plutocrats United".

"She seems to suggest that race and party overlap with one another in certain places like North Carolina". But the court pointed out that black candidates have been winning that district for years with substantial support from white voters, so a majority-black district wasn't needed. The majority relieved the challengers of providing such a map in this case, he said.

Liberal reformers had hoped the court in the year ahead would rein in partisan gerrymandering.

The state formed new lines to comply with the lower court's ruling, but this also faces a lawsuit that a federal court will hear in June.

The other has to do with a federal ruling that 28 of the North Carolina's 170 state legislative districts are also racial gerrymanders.

The justices on March 1 ordered a lower court to reassess whether Virginia's Republican-led legislature unlawfully tried to dilute the power of black voters.

Conservatives complained that the Supreme Court had succeeded only in making the law murkier. "That could possibly happen".

While the Supreme Court decision marks a victory for North Carolina and future gerrymandering disputes, the court's acceptance that states can predetermine election results by finessing the system is troubling.

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