The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether Republican lawmakers relied too heavily on race when they redrew North Carolina’s congressional districts to give the GOP a powerful advantage in the swing state. The justices will hear the case in the fall — almost certainly too late to affect November’s elections. But in the years ahead, it could impact partisan efforts to create electoral districts aimed at swaying the balance of power in Congress and in state legislatures. The Supreme Court could consider it together with a similar appeal from Virginia, where challengers say Republicans packed black voters into a dozen statehouse districts, strengthening GOP control of neighboring territories.
Five of the eight current justices appear sympathetic to such claims brought by minority voters, based on a 2015 ruling in an Alabama case, according to election-law expert Rick Hasen at the University of California at Irvine.
North Carolina’s GOP leaders deny factoring in race to an illegal extent, saying their 2011 map was designed primarily to give Republicans an edge while complying with the federal Voting Rights Act after the 2010 census.