The U.S. Supreme Court will once again scrutinize North Carolina’s new congressional voting districts. This is the second time North Carolina’s attempt to redraw district lines to reflect population changes will be reviewed by the highest court in the land. The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it would consider arguments in McCrory v. Harris, a lawsuit contending that North Carolina’s new districts are discriminatory. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision that required North Carolina to redraw new congressional districts and forced the postponement of some primary elections in the state.
The principal question under consideration is whether lawmakers placed too much emphasis on race when they redrew the state’s congressional district lines. North Carolina had to reconfigure voting districts to reflect the population changes following the 2010 census. Opponents of the districts argue that the newly drawn lines concentrate too many black voters into districts that were already electing black representatives, in an attempt to dilute the minority vote impact in neighboring districts.
After a federal court ruled that the 1st and 12th districts were unfairly drawn, lawmakers scrambled to adjust the congressional district map, resulting in an unusual June 7 primary for the state’s 13 U.S. House races. Lawmakers responsible for drawing the maps and their attorneys argue that the federal court’s perspective muddles lawmakers’ efforts to balance racial and party demographics, the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment, and claims of gerrymandering.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in the fall, and is also likely to consider a similar case out of Virginia.
A separate lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s state legislative districts is still making its way through the courts.