The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived a challenge to North Carolina’s election map, which civil rights groups complain illegally concentrates black voters in a handful of districts. The North Carolina Supreme Court in December had upheld a redistricting map set by the Republican-controlled state legislature following the 2010 census. But in March, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated a similar lawsuit against Alabama’s map, which also had previously passed muster with a lower court. Monday’s decision, issued without comment, ordered the North Carolina high court to reconsider its ruling in light of the March opinion. The Alabama ruling required a lower court to consider that packing more minority voters in a district than necessary to give them political strength could violate the Voting Rights Act, by reducing the number of districts where minority voters could wield influence.
Lawyers challenging the map said they have filed a motion asking the North Carolina Supreme Court to expedite its review. “Plaintiffs originally filed this case in 2011. They are entitled to a final determination that their rights have been violated and a prompt redrawing of non-discriminatory, geographically compact districts in time for the 2016 elections,” said Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a Durham, N.C., group representing the challengers
The North Carolina attorney general’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Following the 2010 census, the North Carolina Legislature redrew congressional and legislative lines to concentrate African-Americans in a handful of districts, under the theory the Voting Rights Act favored the creation of majority black districts.
The prior state map had no majority black congressional or state Senate districts; the 2011 map had two of the former and nine of the latter. In the state House, majority-black seats increased to 23 from 10.