Supreme Court strikes down 2 NC congressional districts
05:18, May 24, 2017
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The 5-3 ruling strikes down two of North Carolina's congressional districts, which the state's Republican lawmakers had argued were drawn because of partisan politics, not race (it just so happens that black voters in the state overwhelmingly vote Democrat).
"It's abundantly clear that what the state of North Carolina did in drawing its legislative districts can not withstand constitutional muster", Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justicesaid in a phone interview.
NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: The court said that the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature had reshuffled tens of thousands of black and white voters into and out of the two districts, deliberately concentrating black voters in the districts and diluting their voting clout in neighboring districts.
Justice [Elena] Kagan said black voters, in coalitions with others, had been able to elect their preferred candidates even before the redistricting.
Critics accused Republicans of cramming black voters into what the NAACP civil rights group called "apartheid voting districts" to diminish their voting power and make surrounding districts more white and more likely to support Republicans.
"Republicans have systematically drawn district lines to intentionally disenfranchise African-American and Latino voters for too long, but from Texas to North Carolina and beyond, the Constitution is catching up with them", Mr. Perez said.
"This will serve as a clear warning to Republican legislatures everywhere that if they illegally racially gerrymander, they will be held to account in court", said Marc Elias, a Democratic attorney who argued the North Carolina case before the Supreme Court, told Politico. Justice Anthony Kennedy, usually the swing vote in the court, was in dissent, along with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
"T$3 he court below found that race furnished the predominant rationale for that district's redesign".
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And this is where Monday's ruling could have implications for two other North Carolina cases working their way through federal courts.
In District 1, the legislature increased black voting age population from 47.6 percent to 52.65 percent. He also pointed out that the court disregarded a precedent set in 2001 in a similar case challenging the constitutionality of District 12.
Rucho's argument, though, raises a vital question: Under what logic is it unconstitutional to use race in drawing maps but OK to use political party?
In the split decision, Justice Clarence Thomas joined the liberal justices in saying race improperly predominated the drawing of the district. Sadly, state lawmakers responded to rulings against their unconstitutional racial gerrymandering by then gerrymandering along partisan lines.
The court unanimously affirmed the lower court ruling on District 1 in northeastern North Carolina. We're glad to see the court note there's a difference between racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering. "It went from a tool being used by conservatives to stop the creation of majority-minority districts to now a tool to try to police Republican gerrymanders in Southern states". The court demanded the review of Virginia state legislature districts in March and also ruled against Alabama's state legislature districts in 2015.
Rep. Rafael Anchia, the chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which is a plaintiff in the case, said he interpreted the district court's new order as a message to the state.
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Cooper issued a statement applauding the Supreme Court for supporting "a level playing field and fair elections" for voters. New Justice Neil Gorsuch was not on the court when the case was heard, and took no part in the decision.
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