SCOTUS Rules North Carolina Gerrymandering Is Racist

Posted: May 22, 2017 12:00 PM

The Supreme Court has ruled that Republican lawmakers intentionally redrew congressional maps in North Carolina to disadvantage African-American voters after the 2010 census. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the 5-3 decision.

The North Carolina ruling upheld a federal district court decision that struck down the state's 1st and 12th congressional districts because state lawmakers had packed African American voters into them, thereby minimizing the influence of black voters in other districts. Kagan said the 1st district "produced boundaries amplifying divisions between blacks and whites," while in the 12th, "race, not politics, accounted for the district's reconfiguration."

Justice Clarence Thomas joined the four liberal justices in the majority.

In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito argued race was not a consideration in the North Carolina lawmakers' redistricting.

"Partisan gerrymandering is always unsavory, but that is not the issue here," he wrote. "The issue is whether District 12 was drawn predominantly because of race. The record shows that it was not."

The Supreme Court also decided not to hear a case last week on the North Carolina voter ID law. That meant that the federal appeals court ruling, which determined the voting requirements were discriminatory, would stand.