Supreme Court ruling ends Republican-drawn House Districts in North Carolina

The 5-3 ruling, written by Justice Elena Kagan, was the latest in several decisions by the justices against the overboard use of race in redistricting.
By Aaron Sims | May 23, 2017
The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that racial considerations determined the way North Carolina lawmakers drew congressional maps after 2010 census to maximize Republican advantage.

The 5-3 ruling, written by Justice Elena Kagan, was the latest in several decisions by the justices against the overboard use of race in redistricting.

Redistricting is the decennial process of drawing new district lines for Congress and state legislatures.

Justice Clarence Thomas joined the court's four liberal judges in striking down the state's maps.

In March, the high court demanded a further lower review of 11 Virginia State Legislature districts that Republicans designated with at least 55% black voting-age populations.

The ruling upheld a federal district court decision that struck down the state's 1st and 12th congressional districts.

State lawmakers had packed African-American voters into the two districts, effectively minimizing the influence of black voters in other districts.

Justice Kagan said the 1st district "produced borders amplifying divisions between blacks and whites," while in the 12th, "race, not politics, accounted for the district's reconfiguration."

Justice Samuel Alito dissented on the 12th district. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. They concurred with state officials that the district was drawn to favor Republicans, no to alienate black voters.

Alito criticized the majority decision for failing to stand by a 2001 case in which the high court upheld a similar configuration for that district.

"A precedent of this court should not be treated like a disposable household itemto be used once and then tossed in the trash," he said.

The high court has never struck down political maps drawn to help one political party.

A new case from Wisconsin is expected to offer a new test next year.

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