The Supreme Court struck down two congressional district maps in North Carolina on May 22
The ruling was a victory for the black North Carolina voters
The Supreme Court affirmed Monday a three-judge district court’s finding that 28 state legislative districts drawn by the North Carolina legislature were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, but vacated the lower court’s order for special elections in response.
The Supreme Court’s decision leaves open for the lower court to conduct a new hearing on whether the state should have special elections.
The ruling is in response to the three-judge panel determining in August 2016 that 28 of the state’s legislative districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Monday’s decision is yet another slap down of the North Carolina legislature from the Supreme Court.
On May 22, the Supreme Court struck down two congressional district maps in North Carolina, holding the state had engaged in an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.
The ruling was a victory for the black North Carolina voters who had argued the plans packed African-Americans in districts that already had a high percentage of African-Americans, thus diluting their presence in other districts.
As a result, the ruling sends the North Carolina legislature back to the drawing board – with significant potential implications for the 2018 midterm elections. The state has been nearly split along partisan lines in recent statewide elections – such as for governor and president – but Republicans control 10 US House seats compared to only three for Democrats.
“The Constitution entrusts states with the job of designing congressional districts,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority. “But it also imposes an important constraint: A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason.”
Steve Vladeck, CNN legal analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, contributed to this report.