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Supreme Court Upholds Rejection Of North Carolina Congressional Districts

Supreme Court Upholds Rejection Of North Carolina Congressional Districts”

On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld a district court ruling issued a year ago that struck down the congressional map that North Carolina Republicans drew in 2011 on the grounds that lawmakers had engaged in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, handing voting rights advocates a major victory and dealing a huge blow to what was arguably the most effective congressional gerrymander of the modern era.

The decision was handed down by an unusual coalition of justices, and was the latest in a series of setbacks for Republican-led legislatures. "The North Carolina Republican legislature tried to rig Congressional elections by drawing unconstitutional districts that discriminated against African Americans, and that's wrong". This decision will make it easier to challenge GOP racial gerrymanders elsewhere, which is significant because Republicans in almost every Southern state could have drawn another congressional district that would elect black or Latino voters's candidate of choice.

While lawmakers said they ignored race in redrawing the state's congressional districts and focused exclusively on party affiliation, the result is the same: divided communities and rigged elections that continue to deny North Carolina voters of their constitutional right to have a voice in choosing their representatives.

Until that day comes, we fear North Carolina's redistricting plans will have plenty more court dates, regardless of whether the General Assembly is controlled by Republicans or by Democrats.

With regard to the 12th District, Kagan noted that only 16 percent of white voters from the six counties crossed by the district would up in the district compared with 64 percent of black voters.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy issued a partial dissent saying they would have upheld one of the districts.

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"The Supreme Court says race can be a factor in redistricting but not the predominant factor, a rule that is so vague, so broad, and so lacking in a definable legal standard that it is not really a rule at all", Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation said.

TOTENBERG: Marc Elias, who successfully argued the case on behalf of a Democratic group headed by former Attorney General Eric Holder, was elated.

Regardless of the outcome of the challenges to those districts, this long, costly and confusing process should suggest a remedy that many in this state have been pursuing for some time. "In fact, the overwhelming evidence in this case shows that a (black voting-age population) percentage floor, or a racial quota, was established in both CD 1 and CD 12". Alito wrote that "District 12's borders and racial composition are readily explained by political considerations and the effects of the legislature's political strategy". Therefore, it was an illegal racial gerrymander.

Democrats have accused Republicans of taking a number of actions at the state level, also including laws imposing new requirements on voters such as presenting certain types of government-issued identification, in a bid to suppress the vote of minorities, the poor and others who generally favor Democratic candidates.

There's some debate in legal circles about the scope of yesterday's ruling and how much it can be used by voting-rights advocates, but the broader pattern of recent rulings gives them some cause for optimism. "Moreover, the Court made it clear that it would not allow states to get away with an unlawful racial gerrymandering by claiming that it's just politics".

In 2015, the Supreme Court also found that individual majority-minority legislative districts in Alabama were racially gerrymandered, forcing the state to redraw its electoral map. Justice Clarence Thomas sided with the more liberal Justices Elena Kegan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. It was argued before Justice Neil M. Gorsuch joined the court, and he took no part in the decision. Right? I mean, that's the question the district court was trying to answer.

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