jh-siesta.com January 19, 2018

Supreme Court agrees lawmakers relied on race in NC redistricting

27 May 2017, 09:28 | Ignacio Ramos



The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Republicans in North Carolina unlawfully took race into consideration when drawing congressional district boundaries, concentrating black voters in an improper bid to diminish their overall political clout.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kagan in the majority opinion.

"To be specific, the new District 12 had 35,000 more African-Americans of voting age and 50,000 fewer whites of that age", Kagan wrote.

The Court's ruling spends considerable time recounting the factual findings of the lower courts that have heard the case, citing testimony given by state legislators and redistricting experts, augmented with relevant demographic statistics. 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. They were hastily redrawn after the federal court ruled against them in February 2016, once again radically altering the map in the state. Alito also noted a 2001 case where the Supreme Court upheld a similar configuration for the same district.

Cooper issued a statement applauding Supreme Court for supporting "a level playing field and fair elections" for voters.

"I think states felt like as long as they could point to partisan reasons to explain what they were doing, they could defend it in court", Kang said. "And therefore, when a state legislature passes a redistricting law with a partisan motivation that has a racial component to it, then that could constitute racial gerrymandering".

"T$3 he court below found that race furnished the predominant rationale for that district's redesign".

Redistricting is part of a bare-knuckled fight in North Carolina, where Democrats and Republicans uneasily share political power.

The two districts in question, the 1st and 12th congressional districts, each contain a significant population of black voters.

The Supreme Court has never said legislative districts can not be mapped based on plainly partisan aims like maximizing one party's election chances.

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

"The North Carolina Republican legislature tried to rig Congressional elections by drawing unconstitutional districts that discriminated against African Americans and that's wrong", Cooper said. "The Court rejected North Carolina's claim that a racial gerrymander can be justified by arguing that it is a political gerrymander, which is allowed by law". It's been progressing. It went from a tool being used by conservatives to stop the creation of majority-minority districts to now a tool to try to pull these Republican gerrymanders in southern states. But, the court said, gerrymandering district lines does not violate the Constitution when it's done to gain partisan advantage.

"The evidence offered at trial.adequately supports the conclusion that race, not politics, accounted for the district's reconfiguration", Kagan wrote.

Robin Hayes, the state Republican chairman, said court rulings on redistricting have put legislative mapmakers "in an impossible situation, with their constantly changing standards". Since Republicans took over many state legislatures in 2010, they have drawn districts with what African American and Democratic critics claim are more blacks than necessary, in order to keep surrounding districts whiter - and more Republican.

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