Supreme Court strikes down NC districts as illegally based on race

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The U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated two North Carolina congressional districts, ruling they were created for the goal of illegally packing in Black voters. Kagan accomplishes this switcheroo in a footnote that will serve as the basis of innumerable future lawsuits, stating that courts may find proof of an unlawful racial gerrymander "when legislators have placed a significant number of voters within or without a district predominantly because of their race, regardless of their ultimate objective in taking that step".

The Supreme Court refused to consider reinstating the 2013 North Carolina voting law that discriminated against African American voters, according to a lower court ruling. 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.

The ruling is a victory for black North Carolina voters who argued that the state drew boundaries that packed African-Americans in districts that already had a high percentage of African-Americans, thus diluting their presence in other districts.

On District 1, which was 52.7 percent black when it was created in 2010, the ruling was unanimous.

"A precedent of this court should not be treated like a disposable household item-say a paper plate or a napkin-to be used once and then tossed in the trash", Alito wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, would have reversed the lower court and upheld the map for one of the districts, District 12.

Republican lawmakers argued they tried to comply with the Voting Rights Act, which requires that race be taken into consideration when drawing district lines in certain settings. Some cases involved congressional districts, others legislative districts. The court unanimously ruled that the 1 District was unconstitutional.

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As noted above, this now-invalidated congressional map was one of, if not the very most, aggressive partisan gerrymanders in modern history.

However, the immediate impact of the ruling on North Carolina's current congressional maps may be limited - at least for the time being. "Neither will we approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence and whose raison d'être is a legal mistake". During redistricting, the GOP increased those pluralities to majorities, claiming alternately that the Voting Rights Act forced them to do so (in the case of the 1st) or that they'd ignored race entirely and only considered partisan preferences in the 12th (something that is still permissible).

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who had not yet joined the court when it heard arguments in the case in December, did not participate.

"North Carolina voters deserve a level playing field and fair elections, and I'm glad the Supreme Court agrees", Cooper said in a statement.

"This will lead to many more successful racial gerrymandering cases in the American South and elsewhere", said Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering could potentially be challenged as unconstitutional if it involved "intentional discrimination against an identifiable political group and an actual discriminatory effect on that group". It's been progressing. It went from a tool being used by conservatives to stop the creation of majority-minority districts to now a tool to try to pull these Republican gerrymanders in southern states. The judge, San Antonio's Xavier Rodriguez, also suggested the parties discuss with Abbott's office whether they should just "voluntarily undertake redistricting" in a special legislative session, which only the governor could call.

Civil Rights advocates and Democrats are celebrating a legal win about redistricting today.

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