Friday, September 29, 2023
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High Court Sidelines N.C. Redistricting Fight

(CN) - The U.S. Supreme Court chose to leave intact a lower court ruling compelling the North Carolina legislature to draw up a new electoral districting map to rectify racial gerrymandering in two of its districts.

The justices did not explain the rationale for their decision Friday afternoon, but it came after the court was informed that state legislators and revised the map and approved a new borders for the two districts that a district court had found unconstitutional because they deliberately clustered minority voters into them.

The one-line decision, in which no dissents were noted, was among the first actions the court has taken since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The districting map has been a hot-button issue in North Carolina since shortly after Republicans took over the majority in the state legislature in 2010. Shortly afterwards, a new district map denoting congressional and state legislative districts was promulgated that critics said was drawn specifically out of a desire to create a partisan advantage.

Aggrieved voters sued the state in October 2013, and on Feb. 5, a three-judge panel of U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled for the plaintiff, finding "strong evidence that race was the only nonnegotiable criterion and that traditional redistricting principles were subordinated to race."

The court ordered the legislature to redraw the map with a deadline of Feb. 19.

The North Carolina legislature had specified that its new districting plan would not go into effect if the justices granted a request from Gov. Pat McCrory and the state board of elections to postpone the lower court order mandating a new map.

Now that the Supreme Court has decided not to look at the case, the new map will be in effect for the presidential primary election in the state, which the legislature voted to move on Friday from March 15 to June 7.

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