Supreme Court Rejects NC Congressional Districts

They pointed to statements by legislative leaders and others that the point of CD 12 was to pack democratic voters into CD 12 so they could not influence elections in the surrounding districts.

North Carolina is (unofficially) the GOP's policy lab in that numerous party's more controversial policies are first tested there. They redrew the maps in 2016. The justices unanimously rejected the "reshuffle" of voters in District 1 and voted 5-3 to reject that of District 12. The court ruled that two districts in North Carolina are unconstitutional because they intentionally gerrymandered an inordinate percentage of African-Americans into the districts in order to diminish minority voting power in other districts.

North Carolina has had problems with these districts before. The decision upheld a lower court's ruling from last February. Election experts said the decision could help similar challenges in other southern states. "To be specific, the new District 12 had 35,000 more African-Americans of voting age and 50,000 fewer whites of that age", Justice Kagan wrote.

The court did so as to both districts, she noted, in part due to the deferential review that the Supreme Court gives to factual conclusions reached by lower courts.

"We by no means 'insist that a state legislature, when redistricting, determine precisely what percent minority population demands.' But neither will we approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence and whose raison d'être is a legal mistake". At the time, progressives viewed Shaw and its predecessors as an assault on the VRA-a Republican effort to prevent states from helping black voters choose their own representatives. In North Carolina, for instance, roughly two-thirds of white voters cast their ballots for Republicans, while some 90 percent of African-Americans vote Democratic.

Calling the move "a watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering", former attorney general Eric Holder said North Carolina's maps "were among the worst racial gerrymanders in the nation".

"This is part of a court project over 30 years now of trying to see that race is not used in the design of election districts any more than is absolutely necessary", said Richard H. Pildes, a law professor at New York University.

The ruling was a rebuke to North Carolina Republicans but the districts in question have already been re-drawn.

Student voter registration and turnout generated by HBCUs could now impact representation in several districts throughout the state. "Today's ruling sends a stark message to legislatures and governors around the country: Racial gerrymandering is illegal and will be struck down in a court of law". For this reason, although CD 12 was a crossover district in North Carolina's previous districting plan, there is no guarantee that it will be such a district in any future plan.

Justice Samuel Alito penned a dissent in the case, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. "A precedent of this court should not be treated like a disposable household item - say, a paper plate of napkin - to be used once and then tossed in the trash", Alito argued.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said the state failed to offer compelling justification for why it so deliberately grouped black voters into the districts at the center of the legal dispute.

Kagan, along with liberal Justices Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Breyer, plus conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, found race was the factor.

Third, the court's ruling on CD 12 is important because the court's view of racial predominance is just as likely to disrupt a gerrymander that favors Democrats as one that favors Republicans.

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

Nevertheless, Monday's ruling is a significant victory in a state that has been ground zero in the battle over voting rights.

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