Clarence Thomas Miraculously Joins Supreme Court Ruling Against North Carolina Gerrymandering

The U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated two North Carolina congressional districts, ruling they were created for the goal of illegally packing in Black voters.

The justices ruled Monday that Republicans who controlled the state legislature and governor's office in 2011 placed too many African-Americans in congressional districts 1 and 12.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the opinion for a five-justice majority, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, would have reversed the lower court and upheld the map for one of the districts, District 12.

"This decision by Justice Kagan is a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs, who have succeeded in turning the racial gerrymandering cause of action into an effective tool to go after partisan gerrymanders in Southern states", said Rick Hasen.

When North Carolina redrew Congressional District 1, the black voting-age population increased from 47.6 percent to 52.65 percent, reports CNN.

States do have leeway to make race-based redistricting decisions when interpreting the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court wrote, and the court "by no means" insists that a state legislature determine precisely what percent minority population that law demands.

The justices last week rebuffed a Republican bid to revive a strict North Carolina voter-identification law that a lower court found deliberately discriminated against black voters.

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday once again struck down North Carolina's congressional district plan.

And this is where Monday's ruling could have implications for two other North Carolina cases working their way through federal courts.

For the second time in a seven-day span, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down an act of North Carolina's General Assembly.

In a 5-3 ruling, the top USA court agreed with plaintiffs who said that the redrawn electoral boundaries deliberately targeted minority voters to diminish their political power. For District 1, we further uphold the District Court's decision that §2 of the VRA gave North Carolina no good reason to reshuffle voters due to their race.

North Carolina's maps, said Holder, "were among the worst racial gerrymanders in the nation". Now legal analysts say that the decision has thrown the door wide open for more lawsuits of partisan congressional district lines. The result was to weaken African-American voting strength elsewhere in North Carolina. The other - the 1st District, held by Representative G.K. Butterfield - was in the northeastern part of the state, with tendrils that captured black areas further south and west.

When such a district exists, the court declared, drawing lines to include more blacks and give them a majority is a form of "racial gerrymandering".

Newly sworn in Justice Neil Gorsuch abstained from ruling in both decisions, due to not being on the bench when the case was heard. That case is on the Supreme Court's docket for Thursday, so we could learn soon if that map will have to be redrawn and new elections held this year. The state legislature, acting on a belief that the federal Voting Rights Act required that a district have at least 50-plus percent of black voters in order to ensure that they could elect their preferred candidates, set that as a hard-and-fast rule. This is a standard practice of gerrymandering that confines the influence of minorities to designated "minority majority" districts and decreases their impact in whiter, more Republican areas.

"Our position continues to be the same as the Obama Justice Department on this issue, which pre-cleared these districts as fair and legal", said Robin Hayes, chairman of the state Republican Party.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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