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BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court upholds decision striking down NC congressional map

Here’s the interesting headline from Supreme Court watcher Professor Rick Hasen, who edits Election Law Blog:

Breaking and Analysis: Supreme Court on 5-3 Vote Affirms NC Racial Gerrymandering Case, with Thomas in Majority and Roberts in Dissent

The Supreme Court has issued this 5-3 opinion in Cooper v. Harris. Justice Kagan wrote the opinion for the Court, with Justice Thomas making the fifth vote for affirmance. Chief Justice Robert and Justices Alito and Kennedy dissented. That is an interesting lineup, to be sure.

Here’s the conclusion to Justice Kagan’s opinion:

“Applying a clear error standard, we uphold the District Court’s conclusions that racial considerations predominated in designing both District 1 and District 12. For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. 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 because of their race. We accordingly affirm the judgment of the District Court.”

State Senator Jeff Jackson (a lawyer from Mecklenburg County) offered this explanation of the ruling and its potential impact in a series of tweets:

“Breaking: U.S. Supreme Court rules that NC’s 2011 congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The congressional map has since been redrawn, so this ruling doesn’t force a redraw – it just upholds the new congressional districts. We’re still waiting to hear whether/when our General Assembly will have to redraw its map, but this is a positive sign. Quick reminder: Even under the “new & improved” map, our closest congressional race was won by 15%. And that’s in a state that votes 50/50. Bottom-line for Supreme Court: NC GOP set target of at least 50% African American voters in 2 congressional districts, and you can’t do that. Bodes well for General Assembly case because GOP set the same 50%+ standard in 28 districts in the state legislature. Same rule should apply.”

Hasen and others are still processing the 79 page ruling. Stand by: We’ll have more details as they become available.

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