Supreme Court throws out ruling on North Carolina redistricting

Supreme Court throws out ruling on North Carolina redistricting

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday threw out [order list, PDF] a North Carolina court ruling that upheld Republican-drawn electoral districts for state and congressional lawmakers. The case, Dickson v. Rucho [SCOTUSblog materials], was remanded to the Supreme Court of North Carolina [official website] for further consideration in light of a similar ruling issued last month by the Supreme Court in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama [JURIST report]. North Carolina’s Supreme Court will re-hear the case to decide whether the legislature relied too heavily on race when it redrew voting districts after the 2010 consensus. Advocacy groups and Democratic voters argue that oddly shaped districts created clusters of Democratic-leaning black voters, benefiting Republicans elsewhere in the state.

In Alabama Legislative Black Caucus, the Supreme Court said the lower court used the wrong test in upholding legislative districts and determining that race was not a primary motivating factor in drawing district lines. The Supreme Court avoided ruling on the lawfulness or constitutionality, and remanded the case to the lower court. It noted that the court should have asked “the extent to which they must preserve existing minority percentages in order to maintain the minority’s present ability to elect the candidate of its choice.” The Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] on Alabama’s redistricting plan in November, at which time the court seemed divided over the issue with some confusion about when race can be appropriately used in redistricting plans.