Supreme Court strikes down 2 NC congressional districts

Posted May 23, 2017

"However, the Governor pointed to the provision's presence in the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure and its references to state court proceedings as potentially limiting its reach to state court proceedings". The Court upheld a lower court's ruling that said the districts, which were drawn in 2011, were illegal, the News & Observer reports.

Gov. Roy Cooper applauded the decision. 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.

There was really no inference, in Chief Justice John Roberts comments, to the now famous 4th Circuit ruling phrase that "surgical precision" was used in the meticulous gutting of Black voter rights in North Carolina.

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"A precedent of this court should not be treated like a disposable household item - say a paper plate or a napkin - to be used once and then tossed in the trash", Alito wrote. On May 15, the Supreme Court rejected North Carolina's appeal.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who had not yet joined the court when arguments in the case were heard in December, did not participate in the ruling.

"The alternative-map requirement deserves better". One way - what the court seems to be doing in some of its cases, such as racial gerrymandering cases, is deciding whether race or party is the predominant motivation of the legislature. Republicans there make up just 30 percent of registered voters, and yet the party holds 10 of the state's 13 House seats.

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The state argued that it redrew the District 12 boundaries to bring in more Democrats, which had the incidental effect of increasing the minority population. Likewise in District 12, a narrow area in western North Carolina, the number increased to 50.7 percent from 43.8 percent. Republicans say it is hard to keep up with the courts' ever-changing rules on redistricting.

"The Constitution entrusts states with the job of designing congressional districts", Kagan wrote. "The courts have put legislatures in an impossible situation, with their constantly changing standards".

The issue of race and redistricting one is a familiar one at the Supreme Court and Kagan noted that one of the districts was "making its fifth (!) appearance before this court". And as they watch various Voter ID and other voter suppression cases bubble into a litigious mass snaking its way through federal courts, there is recognition that the voting rights war may have only been briefly stalled into a cease fire while the larger front against voter access expands. "For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. What remains unsettled, however, is to what extent the majority in the legislature can go to protect their partisan advantage", Butterfield said. There are, roughly, two types of gerrymandering that come before the court: Gerrymandering by political party, and gerrymandering by race. And even as the SCOTUS pushed the North Carolina voter ID case away, North Carolina Republican legislators hurriedly announced plans to push forward with a new Voter ID law or something close to it. The new districts already have been challenged in court.

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Justice Clarence Thomas joined the majority, taking a stand with more liberal justices with whom he often disagrees.