The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s redrawing of four North Carolina state legislative districts in a racial gerrymandering case that challenged maps drawn by Republicans earlier this decade.
But the Supreme Court said the lower court had gone too far in changing several additional districts. And it otherwise allowed maps drawn by the GOP-dominated state legislature to stand.
The decisions come days after the Supreme Court had sent back down to a lower court a decision that Republicans had gerrymandered North Carolina’s congressional districts.
A week earlier, the court had refused to rule on the merits of two other partisan gerrymandering claims in Wisconsin and Maryland.
Taken together, the decisions mean the Supreme Court will not weigh in – at least not immediately – on the question of whether state lawmakers can draw legislative and congressional boundaries that are designed to favor one political party.
“The court’s summary rulings today in a pair of redistricting cases from North Carolina seem to drive home that the justices are not in a hurry to reconsider claims of partisan gerrymandering after sidestepping two major cases earlier this term, but that they will continue to pay close attention to claims that district lines were drawn due to race-based considerations,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
“Of course, whether Justice (Anthony) Kennedy’s successor will tip the scales in favor or against these claims more categorically remains to be seen, so today’s decisions are perhaps best understood as putting things into a holding pattern,” he added.