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State Supreme Court sends one of oldest racial gerrymandering cases back to trial court

A North Carolina racial gerrymandering case that the U.S. Supreme Court sent back to the state Supreme Court has been punted to the trial court.

The order in Dickson v. Rucho was released Thursday.

“Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s remand and instruction, and after careful consideration, this Court remands this case to the trial court to determine whether (1) in light of Cooper v. Harris and North Carolina v. Covington, a controversy exists or if this matter is moot in whole or in part; (2) there are other remaining collateral state and or federal issues that require resolution; and (3) other relief may be proper.”

Justices decided Cooper v. Harris, formerly known as McCrory v. Harris, in May, leaving a lower court’s order in place that found North Carolina’s GOP drew unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered congressional districts.

They decided in North Carolina v. Covington a short time later that 28 of the state’s House and Senate districts were also racially gerrymandered. Lawmakers were forced to redraw those districts and there is a federal court hearing set for Oct. 12 to take up whether their remedial maps will be accepted or have to be redrawn again.

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.

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