The U.S. Supreme Court told a panel of judges to reconsider a ruling that would force North Carolina to redraw its congressional voting map to give Republicans less of a partisan advantage. The justices ordered a new look based on their week-old ruling in a similar case from Wisconsin. That decision said Democratic voters hadn’t shown they have legal standing to challenge the state’s Republican-drawn assembly map. North Carolina Democrats are trying to invalidate a map that gave Republicans 10 of the 13 U.S. House seats in the 2016 election with 53 percent of the overall congressional vote. Democrats say fairer lines would produce something closer to representational parity. A three-judge panel said that North Carolina lawmakers were “motivated by invidious partisan intent” and that the map “perfectly achieved the General Assembly’s partisan objectives.”
It’s not clear the Wisconsin ruling will force the North Carolina court to reach a different result. In the Wisconsin decision, the Supreme Court said the voters’ primary legal argument — that their voting clout was being improperly diluted — had to be pressed on a district-by-district basis.
The North Carolina lawsuit involves a wider variety of legal claims. And unlike the Wisconsin case, the suit is being pressed by voters in each of the state’s congressional districts as well as the Democratic Party.
The lower court said the North Carolina map violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause and First Amendment. The panel also said the North Carolina map runs afoul of the Constitution’s elections clause, which guarantees “the people” the right to select their representatives.