Courts & the Law, News

U.S. Supreme Court sends racial gerrymandering case back to highest state court ‘in light of’ decision last week

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday to send a racial gerrymandering case back to the state Supreme Court in light of a decision it made last week.

Dickson v. Rucho is one of two racial gerrymandering cases that were left pending at the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices last week decided Cooper v. Harris, formerly known as McCrory v. Harris — they left a lower court’s order in place that found North Carolina’s GOP drew unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered congressional districts.

The other pending case, which has been scheduled at several conferences but not decided, is North Carolina v. Covington.

Tuesday’s order list states that justices sent Dickson back to the state Supreme Court for further consideration “in light of Cooper.

It’s the third time the case has been sent back to North Carolina’s highest court. In both of its previous opinions, the state Supreme Court ruled that the districts were constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court’s action today vacates those opinions.

Dickson is one of the oldest redistricting cases and challenges North Carolina’a 2011 state legislative and congressional district maps. It originated in claims that the state in drawing the maps violated state and federal law not only by racially gerrymandering districts, but by splitting counties and disregarding traditional redistricting principles, according to a description at the Brennan Center for Justice.

You can find that description here, along with a details on how the case came to be where it is now.

The case now challenges 25 state legislative districts and three congressional districts.

Voting rights advocates are hailing this mornings denial of certiorari as great news.

Anita Earls, Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, represents the plaintiffs in Dickson.

“In light of Cooper v. Harris, our clients are hopeful that the N.C. Supreme Court will follow federal law and recognize these districts for what they are: unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,” she said. “The North Carolina Supreme Court should take action swiftly to require the immediate implementation of fair districts for all North Carolina voters.”

Democracy North Carolina praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to send the case back to the state court.

“As plaintiffs in Dickson v. Rucho, we applaud the U.S. Supreme Court decision to vacate the N.C. Supreme Court’s flawed ruling and remand the case back to the lower court for reconsideration — all in light of the recent finding in Cooper v. Harris that our state’s congressional maps were illegal racial gerrymanders,” said Isela Gutiérrez, Democracy NC’s Associate Research Director. “This is the second time the nation’s highest court has smacked down the N.C. Supreme Court and directed it to reconsider this redistricting ruling. This time around we are confident that we will prevail and that North Carolinians will finally get the fair and legal congressional and legislative districts they deserve.”

This is breaking news and updates are expected throughout the day. Stay up to date by visiting The Progressive Pulse.

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