The Supreme Court partly granted on Tuesday a request from North Carolina Republicans to block a voting map drawn by a federal court there. That court had interceded after finding that a map drawn by state lawmakers for the General Assembly had relied too heavily on race and had violated state laws. The Supreme Court’s order, which was brief and gave no reasons, partly blocked that decision while the justices consider whether to hear an appeal in the case. The justices seemed to split into three camps: Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have granted the entire request; Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have granted none of it; and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Neil M. Gorsuch appeared to take the middle position.
Last month, the Supreme Court blocked a decision from a different federal court in North Carolina that had ordered state lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional maps. That ruling concerned partisan gerrymandering, while the new one was based on a finding of racial gerrymandering and violations of state law.
The Supreme Court has occasionally struck down voting districts as racial gerrymanders. But it has never ruled that a partisan gerrymander crossed a constitutional line. The court is considering two cases, from Wisconsin and Maryland, that will give it a new chance to determine whether extreme partisan gerrymandering is constitutional.