Supreme Court Tosses Out Two Gerrymandered North Carolina District Maps

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By the Web Editors 5-22-2017

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that Republicans in two districts of North Carolina took race into consideration when drawing district boundaries in an attempt to diminish the influence of black voters.

The court was unanimous on one district ruling and split 5-3 on another with three conservative members dissenting. The 1st congressional district held the unanimous vote while 12th congressional district took the 5-3 split.

Both districts are held by Democrats.

This decision upheld an earlier lower court ruling in February 2016 that threw out the two majority-black U.S. House of Representative districts claiming that Republican lawmakers unlawfully used race when redrawing districts after the 2010 census.

This decision is one of numerous lawsuits that accuse Republicans of discriminating against black and other minority voters who usually vote Democrat. The NAACP called this habit “apartheid voting districts” and claimed Republicans weaken and minimize the voting rights of black voters by packing them into one district and diluting their influence while surrounding them with more white voters that are likely to support Republican candidates. This practice is also known as racial gerrymandering.

In a 2016 article for Sojourners, Jim Wallis writes:

What’s most troubling about these recent examples of partisan gerrymandering, however, is the way they have diminished (some would say intentionally) the voices of voters of color. North Carolina provides some of the more egregious examples. Republicans there make up just 30 percent of registered voters, and yet the party holds 10 of the state’s 13 House seats. Earlier this year, a federal district court ruled that two North Carolina districts had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered using a blatant “racial quota” to pack African-American voters together so their political power would be diluted, according to The New York Times.

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.

The Supreme Court sent another prominent redistricting case in Virginia back to lower courts in March. That decision is still in the process.

Additional reporting provided by Reuters.

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