Supreme Court Effectively Strikes Down 2 Congressional Districts In North Carolina

Both had their boundaries redrawn by GOP lawmakers after the 2010 census, and the number of African-American voters in these two districts grew to a clear majority. But it looms large in other battles unfolding over voting districts there and elsewhere.

Apparently, there is. In the ruling, the court's liberal justices, along with (OK, you're not going to believe this) Clarence Thomas, determined that North Carolina piled black voters into the two districts simply because they were black.

"But that is what the Court does today in its decision regarding North Carolina's 12th Congressional District: The Court junks a rule adopted in a prior, remarkably similar challenge to this very same congressional district", he continued. The 12 district has gone before the Supreme Court five times.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 Monday that North Carolina's most recent redistricting in two congressional districts was driven by racial considerations. "But it also imposes an important constraint: A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason". The state contended it was required to consider race in drawing the districts, but their overall effect was to preserve Republican control.

North Carolina officials said they were trying to preserve black majorities and comply with the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law created to protect racial minorities.

Writing on behalf of the court, Justice Elena Kagan said that adding additional Black voters to the district amounted to unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, especially since Black voters were able to elect their preferred candidates even before redistricting.

"Elections should be decided through a contest of issues, not skillful mapmaking", U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn wrote in a concurring opinion. For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. In affirming a lower court's decision, the justices found a narrow-and contentious-distinction between redistricting for political benefit, and redistricting with the intent to harm a certain slice of the electorate based on race.




"This is a watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering", said former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., who is part of a Democratic effort focused on redistricting.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who had not yet joined the court when arguments in the case were heard, did not participate in the ruling. Certainly race played a role in that process.

It worked. Republicans hold 10 of 13 congressional seats, although some districts are curiously configured like ink blot tests, shapes not conducive to effective representation by someone familiar with all parts of a district.

"The evidence at trial - including live witness testimony subject to credibility determinations - adequately supports the District Court's conclusion that race, not politics, accounted for District 12's reconfiguration", Kagan wrote.

With every legal loss, the embarrassment mounts for North Carolina, which once thought of itself as a progressive state when compared to its southern neighbors.

Cooper issued a statement applauding Supreme Court for supporting "a level playing field and fair elections" for voters.

Voters filed suit after the congressional districts were redrawn, alleging that the state diluted the influence of black voters by packing minorities into two long-held districts.

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