@NCCapitol

US Supreme Court orders review of NC redistricting

Posted April 20, 2015

Voting map

— The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a North Carolina court ruling that upheld Republican-drawn electoral districts for state and congressional lawmakers.

The justices ordered the state Supreme Court to consider anew whether the North Carolina legislature relied too heavily on race when it redrew voting districts following the 2010 census.

The high court issued a similar ruling last month involving a complaint from black Alabama Democrats that the Republican-dominated legislature illegally packed black voters into too few voting districts.

In Alabama, the justices said a lower court used the wrong test when it upheld legislative districts and determined that race was not the primary motivating factor in drawing boundary lines.

The Supreme Court said judges in North Carolina must revisit their ruling in light of the Alabama decision.

In both states, Republicans strengthened their grip on power through redistricting.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, who led the redistricting effort, said they are confident the maps will pass muster on review.

“Since 2011, every court that has issued an opinion and the Obama Justice Department has reached the same conclusion – North Carolina’s redistricting maps are constitutional," Rucho and Lewis said in a joint statement. "Today’s procedural ruling is not unexpected, and we are confident that our state Supreme Court will once again arrive at the same result and the U.S. Supreme Court will affirm its decision.”

Election and civil rights advocacy groups and Democratic voters in North Carolina sued over the maps and argued that lawmakers created oddly shaped districts to create clusters of Democratic-leaning black voters. The redrawing of the map had the effect of benefiting Republicans elsewhere in the state. Republicans said the districts were lawful and designed to protect the state from legal claims under the federal Voting Rights Act.

“We have always known that the current maps were unconstitutional and are gratified that the Supreme Court of the United States has now set in motion a way forward for final disposition of this long-running and wrongly-decided case," Margaret Dickson, a former state House member who sued over the new districts, said in a statement. "The people of North Carolina deserve to have this resolved so that they can benefit from fair and legal maps for the 2016 elections.”

Bob Phillips, executive director of elections watchdog group Common Cause North Carolina, renewed the call for independent oversight of redistricting. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in February calling for such a change, but it has stalled in the General Assembly.

"Today's Supreme Court announcement shows once again that North Carolina's redistricting process is highly dysfunctional and in need of reform. Since 1980, our state's voting maps have been challenged in court more than three dozen times, leading to costly litigation and uncertainty for our elections. North Carolina deserves better," Phillips said in a statement.

41 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Tammy Rush Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    The other major federal redistricting rule concerns race and ethnicity. Sadly, redistricting has been abused to dilute racial and ethnic minorities' voice at the polls. (...) Another tactic is called "packing": pushing as many minority voters as possible into a few super-concentrated districts, and draining the population's voting power from anywhere else.http://redistricting.lls.edu/where.php#race

  • Roger Connor Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    The high court issued a similar ruling last month involving a complaint from black Alabama Democrats that the Republican-dominated legislature illegally packed black voters into too few voting districts.
    So what they're saying is that it is ok to draw districts where the "voting strength is diluted" - by ignoring race? That's the conclusion I come to from the article!

  • Roger Connor Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread



    Non-political independent group ? Exactly what were YOU smoking?

  • Kenny Dunn Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    True, but you must admit both parties have been guilty of creating some very silly districts. I really wish we could come up with some process that takes it out of the hands of the politicians. Anything is better that the process as it has been.

  • Paul Maxwell Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    Take a good look at the district mapping. Many district lines are so ridiculous they are comical. It is gerrymandering at its worst. Couple that with our new voting restrictions and you will understand why the Attorney General is looking our way. The folks on Jones St. should be ashamed. (Hopefully, by 2020 most of them will be dim memories...)

  • Jim Buchanan Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread



    There are many of that DO care. Only issue is we are a small few. Tell me how we could do more without getting crushed!

  • Terry Watts Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    "Now many of our Christians have what I call the 'goo-goo syndrome.' Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." —Paul Weyrich, 1980 (co-founder of the Heritage Foundation & ALEC)

  • Amy Singleton Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    The GOP's gerrymandering became all too obvious. The redistricting tactic, explained away as "everyone does it, even Democrats". The voter ID, okay we'll go with "voter fraud"... despite very few proven cases. What cannot be explained is new limits on early voting and making full time college students vote within a district of their "home address". These two ploys made it unapologeticly obvious the GOP was simply working to oppress voter turnout. Why wouldn't they? People vote and Republican's lose. Without the Electoral College and a Supreme Court misfire in 2006 they would have lost 12 out of the last 13 Presidential elections since that's how often they lost the popular vote.

  • Tammy Rush Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    "When the courts start dictating and saying the people of NC have to live under the same laws as the people of New York or California, then our courts have overstepped their bounds."

    Each state must play by the same federal rules when it comes to redistricting.

    http://redistricting.lls.edu/where.php

  • Terry Watts Apr 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    I take it you missed the part of History where Geo Washington, Jim Madison, and Alex Hamilton were all staunch Federalists???

    The Articles of Confederation were an abysmal failure, the FFs took it upon themselves to enshrine Federalism into their new Constitution...

More...