Supreme Court strikes down North Carolina maps for Congress

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The court ruled that both were, which doesn't surprise observers.

North Carolina was appealing the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina's decision to side with David Harris, a voter from the state's 1st Congressional District, who brought the case forward with Christine Bowser and Samuel Love, two voters who reside in the state's 2nd Congressional District.

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.

As explained the ruling, states do have to consider race when they draw the lines for a whole host of political district, but they can't make it the sole factor - without strong justification - in determining where district lines will go. First, North Carolina's controversial voter ID law couldn't make it to the Supreme Court, meaning it will remain struck down as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

In addition to the practical consequences that Monday's ruling could have for redistricting in North Carolina in 2018, and in the rest of the country after the 2020 census, there is a fascinating political twist to the North Carolina case.


The Supreme Court voted 8-0 to strike down the District 1 map, and 5-3 to strike down the District 12 map.

On May 15th, it was the state's voter laws. "We are hopeful that the court will find that, like racial gerrymandering, partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional".

It would be wise for North Carolina Republicans to use this opportunity to implement a nonpartisan redistricting system.

There was some truth to this idea, but also a great deal of naïveté. The GOP-controlled legislature, which redrew the map in 2013, argued that its redistricting effort was an attempt to protect majorities for its politicians, which is allowed, and not a way to diminish the impact of minority voters. But in 2001's Easley v. Cromartie, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor unexpectedly flipped, siding with the liberals to ease restrictions on racial gerrymandering.

Such race-based redistricting has helped create a much more intensely partisan House and helped white politicians retain the levers of congressional power despite shifting national demographics.


That reliance on partisan gerrymandering as a legal excuse will not hold, Kagan wrote.

That era ended on Monday. In situations where race and party politics are intertwined, that might no longer be the case, per Monday's court ruling. 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".

"C$3 ontrary to the State's view, the court had no call to dismiss this challenge just because the plaintiffs did not proffer an alternative design for District 12", she added. The lower court found that these districts targeted voters on the basis of race in violation of the constitution, a move that effectively prevented black voters from electing their preferred candidates in neighboring seats.

For more, election-law expert Rick Hasen's perspective is always worthwhile, and he wrote a detailed analysis on his blog yesterday, and a Washington Post op-ed today. Race, they claimed, was only relevant to the extent that black voters mostly support Democratic candidates.

In Sunday TV appearances, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they will press Comey in hearings as to whether he ever felt that Trump tried to interfere with his Federal Bureau of Investigation work. But the court in that case didn't find such a violation, and in 2004, four justices led by the late Antonin Scalia said the court should stop looking and admit that "no judicially discernible and manageable standards for adjudicating political gerrymandering claims have emerged".


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