Raleigh, N.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether North Carolina lawmakers relied too much on race when they drew new congressional districts five years ago.
Legal action over the districts has already had a political impact. A three-judge panel in Greensboro ruled in February that lawmakers took the race of voters into account too much when they drew two of the state's 13 congressional districts in 2011. The Supreme Court declined to step into the matter after that ruling, forcing state lawmakers to respond to the lower court's order.
That required state lawmakers to redraw the districts and hold an unusual June primary. Due to how the districts were redrawn, incumbent Republicans George Holding and Renee Ellmers faced each other for the 2nd Congressional District nomination in an unusual intra-party showdown. Holding defeated Ellmers, who will leave Congress at the end of the year.
In the order taking the case, justices writing for the Supreme Court noted the split between the federal district court in Greensboro, which found the districts unconstitutional, and the state Supreme Court, which upheld the lines.
The case is one of at least two redistricting cases the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this fall. The other comes from Virginia.
In addition to broad national implications, the court's findings could have an impact on state legislative seats. A similar case is pending before a different three-judge panel, in which plaintiffs have asked the court to find that lawmakers relied too heavily on race when they drew North Carolina state legislative districts.