GERRYMANDERING

Supreme Court Strikes Down N.C. Congressional Maps

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down two congressional district maps in North Carolina, ruling that state officials engaged in unconstitutional gerrymandering in allowing race to play too large a role in the GOP-drawn map. Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the ruling that the court had sufficient cause to conclude that race was the primary driving factor in setting the two districts’ lines. Surprisingly, the court’s most conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, joined with its four liberal judges for the majority. One of the two districts, District 12, is an absurd, spindly snake that cherrypicks black voters from six separate counties, and was the subject of another Supreme Court case in 2001. No one disagrees that District 12 was drawn with ulterior motives: The question is which motives. Lawyers for North Carolina argued that the motivation was partisan; the districts were intended to hurt Democrats. That’s totally legal and constitutional. But the NAACP said the motives were race-based, intended to hurt black voters. That’s unconstitutional—and the district court agreed.

—Jay Michaelson