US Supreme Court tosses NC legislative districts; no special election ordered
Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously voted to confirm that 28 of North Carolina’s legislative districts were racially gerrymandered. This means the politicians in Raleigh have no more excuses. The districts they drew were unconstitutional, and there’s no denying it now. Our legislators were unconstitutionally elected, and it's now time to redraw these districts.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld without comment a lower court's ruling that North Carolina lawmakers illegally relied too much on the race of voters when they drew 28 state House and state Senate districts in 2011.
But the justices vacated the court's order to immediately redraw the districts and hold a special election this year, saying other remedies should be considered.
"Although this Court has never addressed whether or when a special election may be a proper remedy for a racial gerrymander, obvious considerations include the severity and nature of the particular constitutional violation, the extent of the likely disruption to the ordinary processes of governance if early elections are imposed, and the need to act with proper judicial restraint when intruding on state sovereignty," the high court ruled. "Rather than undertaking such an analysis in this case, the District Court addressed the balance of equities in only the most cursory fashion."
The Supreme Court ruling sends the matter back to the lower court, which could order new districts in time for the regular cycle of elections in 2018.
Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, said she believes new districts could still be enacted this year.
"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," Earls said in a statement. "Many North Carolinians have been participating in unfair elections in racially gerrymandered districts for far too long. It’s time to fix this problem."