The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling that found 28 North Carolina legislative districts to be illegal racial gerrymanders that diluted the overall impact of black voters. But the justices did not agree with the panel of three federal judges who decided that new maps should be drawn and special elections should be held in 2017 to correct the district lines approved by the Republican-led General Assembly in 2011. The Supreme Court order states the panel had not provided a strong enough basis for why it took the extraordinary step of calling for special elections this year. The order sends the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.
The order came five days after the justices met behind closed doors to decide whether to take up the case filed by 31 North Carolina residents in 2015.
In August 2016, a panel of three federal judges found that lawmakers relied too heavily on race in drawing the districts that elect members of the state House and Senate.