[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] upheld [order, PDF] on Friday, in a one-sentence order, a decision [opinion, text] of the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina [official website] forcing the state to redraw the 1st and 12th congressional voting districts. The lower court held that the 2011 district redrawing was unconstitutional as it was done to increase minority voting in those areas. With primary elections initially scheduled for March 15, the governor and state board of elections sought a stay from the Supreme Court, but it was not granted. The primaries will now be held June 7, giving the state legislature time to redraw the districts in accord with the court opinion. The 2011 redistricting increased the minority voting population in each district by at least four percent. This was the first major decision by the US Supreme Court since Justice Antonin Scalia died [JURIST report].
Voting rights remain a controversial legal issue in the US. Earlier this month, a partnership of voting rights groups filed suit [JURIST report] against the executive director for the US Election Assistance Commission, alleging that his recent decision limiting the use of national voter registration in Alabama, Kansas and Georgia deprives eligible voters of the right to vote. Last month a judge for the US District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina granted [JURIST report] a motion by the NAACP and other plaintiffs that would have kept the state from implementing a voter identification law in the upcoming March elections. In May the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a 2012 law requiring voters to be state residents, not just domiciled in the state. In March the US Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] to hear challenges to Wisconsin’s voter ID law. Also in March Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration.