The Supreme Court ruled North Carolina’s legislative districts were the result of racial gerrymandering on Monday. It struck down the 2011 state districts decision, but it also returned the case to the lower court for reconsideration on a separate point.
The justices looked at “inequities” of those districts and made their decision after five days. The case was originally filed by 31 residents of North Carolina in 2015. The Supreme Court sent the case back for to the lower court to review its decision about whether special elections should be held in 2017, given the time and expense of redoing the maps.
The Supreme Court order disapproved of the lower court’s three-judge panel’s decision that wanted to go ahead with the special elections. The News Observer reported that the lower court ruled that:
‘[T]he court simply announced that “[w]hile special elections have costs,” those unspecified costs “pale in comparison” to the prospect that citizens will be “represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander.
The Supreme Court disagreed, according to the News Observer:
‘That minimal reasoning would appear to justify a special election in every racial-gerrymandering case – a result clearly at odds with our demand for careful case-specific analysis. For that reason, we cannot have confidence that the court adequately grappled with the interests on both sides of the remedial question before us.’
Representative for the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform Jane Pinsky also released a statement:
“These two lawsuits are among more than forty instances where a court has had to intervene in NC redistricting since 1980. North Carolina needs to change the way it does redistricting. We need a nonpartisan process that allows citizens to decide who represents them, not one that permits legislators to choose who their voters will be.’
Republican state Senator Ralph Hise and Representative Davis Lewis released a joint statement about the Supreme Court returning special elections to the lower court that read:
‘We are encouraged the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the lower court’s politically-motivated attempt to force a special legislative election in 2017 and its efforts to “suspend provisions of the North Carolina Constitution,” ignore voters’ constitutional right to elect
representatives to two-year terms, and effectively nullify their votes from 2016.’
Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and counselor for redistricting challengers also released a statement Monday, saying:
‘The court previously called for holding elections later this year in newly drawn districts. We think there is still time to implement special elections in the impacted districts, and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens. Many North Carolinians have been participating in unfair elections in racially gerrymandered districts for far too long. It’s time to fix this problem.’
To find out more about gerrymandering, check out this video below:
Featured Image via Getty Images/Mark Wilson.
[H/T: News Observer.]