Supreme Court rules race improperly dominated NC redistricting efforts
- Author: Darren Santiago May 25, 2017,
May 25, 2017, 1:24
States have to take race into account when drawing maps for legislative, congressional and a host of municipal political districts.
North Carolina is (unofficially) the GOP's policy lab in that numerous party's more controversial policies are first tested there. Its review concluded that race was the predominant factor in drawing the two districts at issue. Monday, North Carolina became the third GOP-controlled state legislature in a row to get its map-drawing skills declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
Kagan, in return, said Alito and the dissenters accepted the word of the North Carolina legislature rather than the three-judge panel that heard evidence in the case and found the congressional districts unacceptable. The overtures are also bad harbingers for an upcoming Wisconsin case that challenges partisan gerrymandering. "W" e applaud the Supreme Court's decision today to affirm the lower court ruling that the maps were racially gerrymandered.
As explained the ruling, states do have to consider race when they draw the lines for a whole host of political district, but they can't make it the sole factor - without strong justification - in determining where district lines will go.
Republicans in the North Carolina legislature tried to argue that their goal for redrawing the lines wasn't about race but rather about partisan advantage. Similarly, the percentage of black voters in the state's newly reconfigured 12th District rose from 43.7 percent to 50.66 percent.
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Robin Hayes, the state Republican chairman, said court rulings on redistricting have put legislative mapmakers "in an impossible situation, with their constantly changing standards".
Democrats have accused Republicans of taking a number of steps at the state level, also including laws imposing new requirements on voters such as presenting certain types of government-issued identification, in a bid to suppress the vote of minorities, the poor and others who generally favor Democratic candidates.
On May 15th, it was the state's voter laws. During redistricting, the GOP increased those pluralities to majorities, claiming alternately that the Voting Rights Act forced them to do so (in the case of the 1st) or that they'd ignored race entirely and only considered partisan preferences in the 12th (something that is still permissible). That law protects minority voters and was enacted to address a history of racial discrimination in voting, especially in Southern states. But, the court said, gerrymandering district lines does not violate the Constitution when it's done to gain partisan advantage.
District 12, for its part, had no need for significant total-population changes: It was overpopulated by fewer than 3,000 people out of over 730,000. For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. They were unanimous in rejecting one of the districts and split 5 to 3 on the other. "This opinion, with Justice (Clarence) Thomas joining the majority, must mean those districts are unconstitutional". Just last week the Supreme Court told them to GTFOH with their voter suppression. The court unanimously ruled that the 1 District was unconstitutional. Since then it has faulted some Republican redistricting efforts for racial reasons. This sort of "packing" actually serves to dilute blacks' voting power in other districts. In that case the challengers lost because they did not produce an alternative map. But they used a odd argument to justify their position: The Voting Rights Act MADE them do it.
"The result has been rigged elections that continue to deny North Carolina voters of their constitutional right to have a voice in choosing their representatives".