The U.S. Supreme Court will review an appeal by North Carolina to maintain the remapping of its districts this fall – a plan previously described as a “blatant, unapologetic, partisan, gerrymander” that could disfranchise the state’s minority population. The court added the appeal to its calendar Monday. Its decision to address the redistricting plan comes just five months after a three-judge panel rejected a legal challenge filed by attorneys for David Harris of Durham and Christine Bowser of Mecklenburg County. Attorneys argue that remapping of state’s 1st and 12th congressional districts limits the state’s minority representation. Those districts are held by Democrat Reps. G.K. Butterfield and Alma Adams, the state’s only two African-American congressional representatives.
“It’s not a redistricting decade if North Carolina doesn’t have a case go before the Supreme Court over its legislative districts, and the question always boils down to: What percentage of black voters should a district hold in order for black North Carolinians to elect one of their own?” Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer said.
U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that there were 10 million people living in North Carolina in 2015. African-Americans account for 22.1 percent of that population, according to the bureau.
Rep. David Lewis, a Republican from Harnett County who helped shepherd the 2011 maps and February redesigns through the General Assembly, has said that race was never a factor when the 13 congressional districts were redrawn. The point of redrawing the districts was to give Republicans a 10-3 advantage in the state’s congressional delegation, he said.