The Supreme Court ruled Monday that two North Carolina congressional districts were drawn unconstitutionally, affirming a previous district court decision against the state’s maps.
The ruling centered on two Democratic-held districts and found that Republican state legislators, in drawing the congressional map earlier this decade, “packed” African-American voters into those districts to dilute the power of their votes in other congressional seats.
State Republicans argued that they increased the African-American population of the districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act, but Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her decision that the argument “does not withstand strict scrutiny.”
“For nearly 20 years before the new plan’s adoption, African-Americans made up less than a majority of District 1’s voters, but their preferred candidates scored consistent victories,” Kagan wrote of the district currently held by Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield.
North Carolina currently has three Democrats and 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives. The state has already redrawn its original congressional maps for this decade, which resulted in the member-versus-member primary between GOP Rep. George Holding and former Rep. Renee Ellmers in 2016.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kagan in the majority alongside Clarence Thomas — an unusual majority combination.