Monday, 20 September, 2021

North Carolina Used Race to Draw Congressional Districts

Kelley Robertson | 23 May, 2017, 11:11

North Carolina's Republican legislators unconstitutionally packed black voters into two congressional districts, making other districts whiter, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Congresswoman Adams continued, "This should serve as a wakeup call to the Republican-led general assembly, whose voter suppression tactics have been struck down twice in federal court, in as many weeks".

The other has to do with a federal ruling that 28 of the North Carolina's 170 state legislative districts are also racial gerrymanders.

Added Cooper: "North Carolina voters deserve a level playing field and fair elections, and I'm glad the Supreme Court agrees".

By drawing Doggett's district with a majority Hispanic population extending into San Antonio, the Republican-controlled Legislature eliminated an existing Democratic district while creating the "facade of complying" with the Voting Rights Act, the majority ruled. The court struck that map, 8-0. In an unusual move, Justice Clarence Thomas joined with the Court's liberal bloc to produce a 5-3 decision.

In other words, newly insane state of North Carolina, the Supreme Court of the United States is very exhausted of your bullshit in this matter. The United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina found that the districts were in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, which prevents states from denying citizens equal protection under the law.

While the districts have already been redrawn, Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for Senate Leader Phil Berger, said Monday that the uncertainty in the court's decisions on this case have made redistricting hard.

Every justice agreed that the First District was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander (Neil Gorsuch, who occupies a seat that Senate Republicans held open until Donald Trump could fill it, did not participate in the case), so the primary disagreement between Kagan's majority opinion and Justice Samuel Alito's dissent concerned the 12th District. "The issue is whether District 12 was drawn predominantly because of race".

The racial gerrymanders that left Republicans representing 10 of 13 North Carolina congressional districts were meant to dilute the power of black voters in the political process and muffle their voice, according to the ruling.

Alito wrote that the court already had a precedent for District 12, because the justices ruled on it in 2001, when it "had the same basic shape".

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That political versus racial motivation gets harder to discern because states are allowed to draw district boundaries for political reasons, and there is a high correlation between minority voters and Democratic votes.

That is one of the most important parts of the decision, said Richard Pildes, an election law expert at New York University.

Seven years ago, the Supreme Court summarily rejected a constitutional challenge to that provision, over the dissents of three Justices would wanted the court to hold a full-scale review of the ban before ruling on its validity.

In other words, Democrats wanted race-based voting districts until they didn't.

The justices last week rebuffed a Republican bid to revive a strict North Carolina voter-identification law that a lower court found deliberately discriminated against black voters.

"An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing", said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said the state did not offer compelling justifications to justify its reliance on race in either district. The only question before the justices was whether race was a predominant factor in drawing the district, as the challengers alleged.

Kagan explained that, when it comes to drawing congressional districts, race and party are not necessarily separate categories.

The lawyer leading the challenge to the state districts, Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said Monday's ruling has clear implications for that case.


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