Supreme Court rules North Carolina congressional districts racially gerrymandered

The court's decision was also welcomed by Democrats, who felt that the legislature's redistricting efforts were systemically unfair to Black voters.

Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, pointed out reasons both parties should support reform.

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In the 5-3 decision, with ultra-conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joining the four liberal justices in the majority, the court ruled that North Carolina unconstitutionally packed African American voters into two districts, in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

The map revision maximized black voters in some North Carolina districts and minimized black voters in others, according to The Atlantic.

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The court unanimously affirmed the lower court ruling on District 1 in northeastern North Carolina. "This decision lays the groundwork for the challenge to the Republican remedial map ..."

"Uncontested evidence in the record shows that the State's mapmakers, in considering District 1, purposefully established a racial target: African-Americans should make up no less than a majority of the voting-age population", Justice Kagan wrote. They prefer districts that are only 30% or so black so blacks, together with homosexuals, union members, wacko environmentalists, government employees, and brainwashed college graduates, can elect Democrats. It argued the Republicans who controlled the redistricting process wanted to make surrounding districts safer for GOP candidates.

But now Monday's ruling will likely serve as a basis for gerrymandering cases across the South, and will help plaintiffs prove that states unlawfully redrew districts.

"We by no means 'insist that a state legislature, when redistricting, determine precisely what percent minority population demands.' But neither will we approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence and whose raison d'être is a legal mistake".

Republicans complained about the ruling, however, saying it compounds "the confused state of the law". In North Carolina, for instance, roughly two-thirds of white voters cast their ballots for Republicans, while some 90 percent of African-Americans vote Democratic. That law protects minority voters and was enacted to address a history of racial discrimination in voting, especially in Southern states. "Moreover, the Court made it clear that it would not allow states to get away with an unlawful racial gerrymandering by claiming that it's just politics".

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However, the immediate impact of the ruling on North Carolina's current congressional maps may be limited - at least for the time being. The new districts already have been challenged in court.

The split among the justices was over the 12th district.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito were the dissenters in the decision.

"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", Alito wrote. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not take part in the case. By a unanimous vote, the court rejected North Carolina's argument that it was required by the Voting Rights Act to create these two majority black districts. Lawmakers increased the number of black voters to 50.7 percent from 43.8 percent.

But North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes complained of what he sees as continually changing rules on redistricting. And that has not been going well when it comes to voting rights.

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