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Court Stays Order to Redraw North Carolina Voting Maps

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court stayed a controversial lower court order that would have required North Carolina to rework congressional voting districts.

As a result, the Republican-dominated districts will likely stay the same for at least another election. For opponents, the stay was justice delayed.

They also say it is troubling because the lower court concluded that North Carolina discriminated against voters.

Equal Protection

In Common Cause v. Rucho, the US. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled the election boundaries violated equal protection laws by diluting non-Republican votes. The majority said lawmakers had discriminated based on political belief and association.

The judges ordered the state legislature to redraw the districts by Jan. 24. Without an opinion, the Supreme Court suspended that ruling.

Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School, said the decision "likely delays the resolution of justice" for another election cycle.

"That sort of delay, in a case in which the legislature admitted to seeking maximum partisan advantage, makes it even more important for the Supreme Court to lay down clear rules for addressing the epidemic of partisan gerrymandering going forward," he told CNN.

First Amendment

In the meantime, the Supreme Court is considering two other gerrymandering cases. Each case pits one party against the other.

In Gil v. Whitford, the issue is equal protection in Wisconsin. Benisek v. Lamone is a First Amendment challenge from Maryland.

While the Supreme Court weighs those issues, North Carolina legislators may get in one more election before they have to redraw boundaries. It would not be the first time.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled twice that North Carolina violated equal protection on racial grounds.

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