Supreme Court strikes down NC legislative districts

Supreme Court strikes down NC legislative districts
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The Supreme Court upheld on Monday a lower court’s decision to throw out state legislative district lines, the latest ruling against districts drawn while considering race.

The unsigned order, issued without any dissent, affirms a three-judge panel’s ruling last year that 28 state legislative districts were drawn improperly because legislators considered race in the crafting of new lines in 2011. 

The high court did, however, side with Republican state legislators who sought to block the part of the lower court decision that ordered new district lines and special elections be held this year. 

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The Supreme Court said the district court judges did not give sufficient reason to order special elections, and it ordered those justices to consider further whether elections are justified.

The case, North Carolina v. Covington, is one of a handful of challenges to the Tar Heel State’s Republican-drawn district lines working their way through the court system. 

The Supreme Court ruled last month in Cooper v. Harris that Republican legislators had improperly considered race when drawing congressional district lines in 2011. The legislature had already drawn new lines before the Supreme Court’s ruling in that case, so the decision did not force new maps.

Justices have asked for additional input from lawyers in another case, Harris v. Cooper, which challenges the validity of the new lines drawn before the 2016 elections. Those lines, civil rights groups and Democratic attorneys contend, were improperly drawn using partisanship rather than race to gerrymander districts that favor Republicans.

Two other cases challenging partisan gerrymandering are working their way through lower courts. The Supreme Court could also decide to hear arguments in the partisan districting case alongside a case from Wisconsin that will come before justices in private conference later this month.