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Updated: Supreme Court upholds state 2011 redistricting plan

It took close to a year from the date of argument,  but as expected by many the state Supreme Court today handed down its decision upholding the 2011 redistricting plan.

The justices voted along party lines in the 4-2 opinion in Dickson v. Rucho, with Justice Robert Edmunds writing the opinion for the majority.

Justices Cheri Beasley and Robin Hudson joined in dissent, holding that the case should go back to the three-judge panel that initially decided the case.

Justice Robert Hunter did not participate in the case.

The high court had not handed down any written decisions since August — with 37 cases pending for a ruling as of yesterday — but today caught up a bit with 22 opinions.

In Dickson, the majority found that the General Assembly was justified in using race to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative voting districts after the 2010 census, to the extent necessary to avoid liability under the Voting Rights Act.  With respect to the 26 districts drawn for that purpose though, the state was obliged to narrowly tailor the redistricting.

The parties challenging the maps had argued in part that the state used race too often, when it wasn’t necessary, and too much — packing black voters into districts until their numbers reached beyond the 50 percent mark, even though the African-American populations there, while still in the minority, had already been exerting political influence and electing their candidates of choice.

The justices did not examine each of those districts to determine whether they were narrowly drawn but rather looked at percentages of black voters packed in, finding that on average they satisfied constitutional requirements.

Edmunds wrote:

The Total Black Voting Age Population percentage ranges from a low of 50.45% to a high of 57.33% in the twenty-six districts in question. However, the average Total Black Voting Age Population of the challenged districts is only 52.28%. Twenty-one of the twenty-six districts have Total Black Voting Age populations of less than 53%, and only two of these districts, Senate 28 and House 24, exceed 55% Total Black Voting Age Population.

We are mindful that a host of other factors were considered in addition to race, such as the Whole County Provision of the Constitution of North Carolina, protection of incumbents, one person,one-vote requirements and partisan considerations. As a result, we are satisfied that these districts are sufficiently narrowly tailored. They do not classify individuals based upon race to an extent greater than reasonably necessary to comply with the VRA, while simultaneously taking into account traditional districting principles.

The majority also found that moving more black voters — who tend to vote Democratic — into districts that already vote Democratic was permissible as long as the race was not the primary motive for doing so.

In dissent, Beasley and Hudson took issue with the majority’s analysis, which they said overlooked several factual and legal errors by the court below and appeared to be a rush toward finality.

Beasley wrote:

The majority compounds the error by ignoring altogether the trial court’s explicit findings of fact and by too generously characterizing the General Assembly’s enacted plan. The majority’s departure from this Court’s usual course of adherence to our settled principles of appellate review could create a stain of suspicion among the citizens of the state regarding the actions of their elected officials and bodies of government—both legislative and judicial.

Beasley also expressed her concern that, to the extent the majority sustained districts drawn for “legitimate” partisan purposes, politics may have served as cover for race.

Discussing Congressional District 12, which runs along I-85 between Mecklenburg and Guilford Counties, Beasley wrote:

With respect to Congressional District 12, the trial court’s findings belie a fundamental problem with redistricting, particularly in North Carolina, the importance of which cannot be overstated. . . . Because race and politics historically have been and currently remain intertwined in North Carolina, I cannot escape my conviction that politics are a pretext for this excruciatingly contorted race-based district. . . . To allow this serpentine district, which follows the I-85 corridor between Mecklenburg and Guilford Counties, to be drafted for political advantage is a proxy for racial disenfranchisement and effectively creates a “magic words” threshold. Upholding this district’s tortured construction creates an incentive for legislators to stay “on script” and avoid mentioning race on the record,and in this instance, it is disingenuous to suggest that race is not the predominant factor.

Attorneys for the map’s challengers said the court’s decision raises several issues for U.S. Supreme Court review and are planning to appeal quickly so that new maps can be drawn before the 2016 elections.

“The Plaintiffs in this case intend to continue their efforts to vindicate their rights. It is simply wrong for the legislature to carve up this state on the basis of race in these circumstances,” said Anita Earls, lead attorney for the North Carolina NAACP Plaintiffs.

“This is a disappointing development, but we will not give up in our fight to ensure that redistricting in this state is conducted in a fair and legal way,” added Brenda Rogers of the League of Women Voters.

State Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Bob Rucho — who spearheaded the redistricting effort — praised the decision.

“Today’s decision confirms that our redistricting process and maps are what we have said all along: fair and legal,” they said in a statement.

Read the court’s full opinion here.

 

 

 

11 Comments


  1. LayintheSmakDown

    December 19, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Combine the NCSC ruling with this:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/19/epa-sets-first-national-standard-for-coal-waste/
    And you have the day where the progresso foundation is crumbling. Oh what a beautiful day!

  2. david esmay

    December 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    The Washington Times, now that’s rich, you might as well be quoting Faux News or the Heritage Foundation.

  3. LayintheSmakDown

    December 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Yeah, I prefer not to use Communist News Network or any of the others that are in the pocket of the communist/progressive view. Regardless of the source, it is a story of something that happened, but I am sure you did not use your brain to actually research the issue even on one of your preferred leftist rags.

  4. ML

    December 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Regardless of its source? If it’s so important you refuse to listen/read news from certain sources and go as far to call them communist as well as any progressive is a communist then your source is certainly important. So please keep you fascist/conservative propaganda off this communist site.

  5. LayintheSmakDown

    December 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

    My point is that the issue should be at least covered you doofus. I am certainly going to link to where I see a story, but if you need the communist spin on it then go to communist news network or pmsnbc if you must. I assume they do not fully ignore the epa coming out on the right side of things for once, if not for any other reason than to get the envirowhackos all riled up.

  6. ML

    December 29, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    But your guys at the W Times covered it? Are they not good enough for you or is the pulse such an important source?

  7. LayintheSmakDown

    December 30, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I am not sure what your point is. You insult my source, and I encourage you to go to a source of your choosing as at its core it is a story not a political view, but you could use one source you consider trustworthy. I am not sure where the pulse as a source comes in….

  8. ML

    December 30, 2014 at 9:54 am

    You were upset enough to post a link here bc it was not being covered here. You refer to the pulse as a communist rag, yet you still come here and gripe when the pulse doesn’t cover a trivial story that isn’t news worthy from a site that isn’t worthy of being in the Internet.

    You either recognize that the pulse has more to offer in terms reliable news coverage or you are paid to bring your conservative anarchist drivel. I’m assuming the latter.

  9. LayintheSmakDown

    December 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Actually I come to dispute what is said. And as you can see, I actually put something out there that is news worthy but not covered as is the case with most things that do not go their way.

  10. LayintheSmakDown

    January 1, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Waiting for Alan troll mode….

  11. Alan

    January 2, 2015 at 10:51 am

    And I thought Sarah Palin was the dumbest republican EVER…

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