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

But the Supreme Court found that implausible. The Court agreed on District One in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Elena Kagan. Many, many districts across the country have been drawn on exactly this argument, so this opens the door, essentially to a wholesale redrawing of dozens of electoral maps. First, the plaintiff must prove that "race was the predominant factor motivating the legislature's decision to place a significant number of voters within or without a particular district".

A lawyer challenging the General Assembly districts said legislative mapmakers used similar reasoning to defend the congressional and legislative maps, so Monday's ruling bolsters her cause. But earlier this year the Supreme Court temporarily halted an order to redraw those legislative districts.

The split among the justices was over the 12th district. In 2010, when Republicans took control over many state legislatures, they used the opportunity to redraw districts. In affirming the ruling of a three-judge District Court, the Supreme Court found that racial considerations predominated in the drawing of the lines of both districts. They repeatedly told their colleagues that District 1 had to be majority-minority, so as to comply with the VRA [Voting Rights Act].

North Carolina's 12th congressional district is well known to the U.S. Supreme Court and election law experts like professor Rick Hasen, who also runs the Election Law Blog.

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The court voted separately on each of the two districts. Even with the new districts, Republicans maintained their 10-3 edge in congressional seats. Until then, voters of all political stripes should call on legislators to get out of the map-drawing business - and stop rigging the elections to further their own careers. But afterward they realized that this provision harmed them if too many blacks were packed in two few districts, so they decided that they no longer liked the Voting Rights Act and no longer want racial gerrymandering. "Neither will we approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence and whose raison d'être is a legal mistake".

The justices also voted 5 to 3 to reject District 12, located in the south-central part of the state.

Justice Neil Gorsuch didn't participate because he was not on the bench when the case was heard. Certainly race played a role in that process. The redrawn lines benefitted Republican candidates in other districts. The Supreme Court's ruling upheld that decision with Kagan noting that the 1 district "produced boundaries amplifying divisions between blacks and white" with the 12 district having "race, not politics, accounted for the district's reconfiguration".

"North Carolina voters deserve a level playing field and fair elections, and I'm glad the Supreme Court agrees", said Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat elected in November. Republicans argue that tilting the districts majority-black is within their legal limits, because distinguishing the black vote from the Democratic vote-a vast majority of black voters support Democratic candidates-is nearly impossible. The dissent said the Court's own ruling in the previous gerrymandering case Cromartie made this failure to provide an alternative necessitated that the claims regarding District Twelve should not proceed.

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