The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld a lower court ruling on two long-contested congressional districts as being gerrymandered.
In 2016, a three-judge panel determined that the 1st Congressional and the 12th Congressional Districts were drawn in a manner that made blacks the majority of voters in each district.
Justice Elena Kagan delivered the opinion; Justices Thomas, Ginsberg, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined.
Justice Kagan wrote ruling on behalf of the court:
“Applying a clear error standard, we uphold the District Court’s conclusions that racial considerations predominated in designing both District 1 and District 12. For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. For District 1, we further uphold the District Court’s decision that [Section] §2 of the VRA gave North Carolina no good reason to reshuffle voters because of their race. We accordingly affirm the judgment of the District Court.”
The districts would likely have to be redrawn had this ruling impacted the 2016 maps, however the SCOTUS ruling appears to be affirming the ruling of the lower court on the 2011 maps.
Justice Kagan seems to have erred by including the line, “This case concerns North Carolina’s most recent redrawing of two congressional districts, both of which have long included substantial populations of black voters.” It should have stated the “2011 drawing of maps (omit most recent).”
Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which Justice Roberts and Kennedy joined.
Newly confirmed Justice Gorsuch took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a statement on Twitter:
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee also issued a statement:
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) is backed by former President Obama but run by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and with help from former Hillary Clinton counsel, Marc Elias.
The NRDC will likely be well-funded by the likes of Democracy Alliance and billionaire George Soros, who have made North Carolina one of their main targets in the last 4 years.
NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes responded:
“Our position continues to be the same as the Obama Justice Department on this issue, which pre-cleared these districts as fair and legal. I don’t know how any legislature can perform this task when the rules change constantly from case to case, often after the fact,” said Chairman Hayes, as he went on to quote Justice Alito.
“Justice Alito stated it correctly in his dissent, ‘A precedent of this court should not be treated like a disposable household item””say, a paper plate or napkin””to be used once and then tossed in the trash. But that is what the court does today in its decision….'”
Hayes continued, “The courts have put legislatures in an impossible situation, with their constantly changing standards. It is also important to note that this ruling does not impact our current congressional map, which we also believe is fair and legal.”
– NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes
This story is still developing and updates are likely.
Read the SCOTUS opinion on ROY COOPER v. DAVID HARRIS, ET AL.