The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will soon weigh in on whether North Carolina's redistricting relied too heavily on race, deliberately clustering large populations of black voters into two districts in an attempt to diminish their influence and sway election results.
The Hill reports:
North Carolina citizens bringing the case forward argued that the redrawn lines were a "textbook example of racial gerrymandering" that violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
They claimed North Carolina lawmakers packed black voters from "disparate black communities" into the 1st Congressional District and 12th Congressional District.
A federal court ruled earlier this year that the 2011 redistricting did constitute racially-motivated gerrymandering and ordered the lines to be redrawn, though voters challenged the new districts as well. According to Politico's Josh Gerstein, "The latest revision of the map is expected to preserve a 10-to-3 Republican-Democratic split in the state’s U.S. House delegation."
Nonetheless, North Carolina Republican Gov. Patrick McCrory and the state Board of Elections petitioned the Supreme Court to weigh in on the lower court ruling, claiming that "the trial court's finding of racial gerrymandering was based on erroneous fact-finding," Courthouse News Service reports.
As the Supreme Court will now consider the case when it reconvenes this fall, the maps are unlikely to change before November's presidential election.
North Carolina's voter suppression efforts have come under increased scrutiny since the passage in 2013 of House Bill 589, which eliminated same-day registration, required strict forms of voter ID, and shortened the early voting period, among other things. Citing the widespread disenfranchisement caused by these and other new voting restrictions, voting rights advocates across the nation are pressuring federal lawmakers to restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act before the upcoming election.