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    Supreme Court: North Carolina Used Race to Draw Congressional Districts

    Supreme Court: North Carolina Used Race to Draw Congressional Districts

    Clarence Thomas stood with the majority.

    The Supreme court has ruled that Republicans in North Carolina used race and not politics when they drew congressional districts in 2011. A lower court ruled the same, which “forced legislators to create new maps last year.” The News & Observer continued:

    The 5-3 ruling, written by Justice Elena Kagan, is among a series by the justices against the excessive use of race in redistricting that state lawmakers across the country take up every 10 years after the release of new Census data.

    Justice Clarence Thomas joined the majority, taking a stand with more liberal justices with whom he often disagrees.

    Justice Samuel Alito dissented in part from the ruling, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. The newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, did not participate in the case.

    In February 2016, a lower court found evidence that officials used race to redraw the 12th Congressional District and 1st Congressional district, both of which had Democrat representatives:

    The lawsuit was brought by Mecklenburg County voters and said the 1st District was “akin to a Rorschach inkblot” weaving through 24 counties and containing only five whole counties. The district is mostly in the northeastern part of the state and included Durham, Elizabeth City, Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount, Goldsboro and New Bern.

    The 12th District was 120 miles long but just 20 miles wide at its widest part. The district included large portions of Charlotte and Greensboro connected by a thin strip – “averaging only a few miles wide,” the lawsuit said – that followed Interstate 85. The district was the most litigated in the country during the 1990s, and the subject of four cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Redistricting lawsuits delayed North Carolina elections in 1998 and 2002.

    Kagan wrote:

    “We uphold the District Court’s conclusions that racial considerations predominated in designing both District 1 and District 12,” Kagan wrote for the high court. “For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. For District 1, we further uphold the District Court’s decision that [measure] 2 of the VRA [Voting Rights Act] gave North Carolina no good reason to reshuffle voters because of their race.”

    Alito in his dissent argued that the redrawn lines “are readily explained by political considerations.”

    The state formed new lines to comply with the lower court’s ruling, but this also faces a lawsuit that a federal court will hear in June. The groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina filed the lawsuit, which questions “the breadth to which lawmakers can draw districts for partisan advantage.”

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    greener | May 23, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Of course those two districts were gerrymandered based on race. In the 1990’s the gerrymander was challenged by Republicans because they were based on race and lost because it was considered consistent with the intent of the Voting Rights Act. Now, the gerrymander was challenged by Democrats and some claim the districts were packed by the evil Republicans. One of the advantages of having 4 Republican Governors in almost 150 years is when they are in you can blame all your evils on them.

    The two districts have the only black and Democrat Representatives from North Carolina. This is a double back flip on the part of the Dems going from packing to promote racial ends to claiming racism to promote political ends. Both incumbents are 70 years old. It looks like the Democrats are willing to sacrifice these old folks on the political bet that by dilution into other districts they can gain representation.


     
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    Aarradin | May 24, 2017 at 5:40 am

    The Voter’s Rights Act REQUIRES race be the primary consideration for drawing Congressional Districts in any districts that are VRA “majority minority” districts. Which, in NC, are the 2 districts in question.

    If you do NOT use race as your primary consideration when drawing district lines, Democrats sue you in federal court and virtually always win.

    In any case, considering blacks voted for Obama and the D’s at rates exceeding 95%, drawing lines purely by politics or purely by race yields precisely the same results.


       
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      Milhouse in reply to Aarradin. | May 26, 2017 at 12:25 am

      The Voter’s Rights Act REQUIRES race be the primary consideration for drawing Congressional Districts in any districts that are VRA “majority minority” districts. Which, in NC, are the 2 districts in question.

      No, it doesn’t. It only requires it if there is a large and politically cohesive minority, and the majority is voting as a bloc to shut the minority out of politics. If a district has 45% blacks who mostly vote Democrat, but the white 55% vote so heavily Republican that the Rs consistently carry the district then §2 of the VRA requires adding more black voters so they can get the representation they want. But if there are enough white Democrats who can join with the blacks to elect their preferred candidate then the VRA is fine with that. It doesn’t require such districts, but it doesn’t prohibit them.


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