Supreme Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voting Districts
In a 5-3 decision, the Court ruled the districts were illegal based on race.
The ruling stated that North Carolina officials used race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines without a compelling reason. The districts in question were North Carolina’s 1st and 12th district, which are predominately populated by African-Americans.
“Although States enjoy leeway to take race-based actions reasonably judged necessary under a proper interpretation of the Voting Rights Act, that latitude cannot rescue District 1,” Justice Elena Kagan said while delivering the opinion.
“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.”
In regard to the 12th District, the court said the evidence offered at trial supports the conclusion that race, not politics, accounted for the district’s reconfiguration.
Surprisingly, Justice Clarence Thomas, a member of the court’s conservative wing, sided with the court’s more liberal members. The other Justices voting in favor were Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
North Carolina was appealing the District Court decision to side with David Harris, a voter from the state’s 1st Congressional District, who brought the case forward with Christine Bowser and Samuel Love, two voters who reside in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.