The Supreme Court has ruled that two gerrymandered congressional districts in North Carolina are in violation of the Constitution. The Court ruled that the districts were gerrymandered too heavily along racial lines.
By packing black voters into already heavily black districts, the “state’s mapmakers… purposely established a racial target,” said Justice Elena Kagan. The result was “a district with stark racial borders.” Kagan explained that the US Constitution forbids a state from “separating its citizens into different voting districts on the basis of race.”
Two of North Carolina’s most heavily gerrymandered districts were at the heart of this case. Because of gerrymandering, the state’s 1st District saw its black population increase from 48.6 percent to 52.7 percent, and its 12th district saw the number of black voters increase from 43.8 percent to a staggering 50.7 percent.
In a surprise move, even the staunchly conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joined the court’s progressives to form the majority.
State lawmakers attempted to claim that the lines were drawn for the purpose of “partisan advantage;” the Court, however, decided that the lines were drawn for racial discrimination. Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at UC Irvine, said the decision “will lead to many more successful racial gerrymandering cases in the American South and elsewhere.”
Eric Holder, attorney general from the Obama administration and the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said:
“This is a watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering. North Carolina’s maps were among the worst racial gerrymanders in the nation.”
While North Carolina has, for years, shamelessly used illegal tactics to undermine the principles of our democracy, the tide is finally turning. The lawmakers who so desperately needed to rely on racial gerrymandering to keep their jobs will now get exactly what they deserve.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.