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Politics

Supreme Court Rules 28 North Carolina Districts Racially Gerrymandered

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Jeff Kubina and Simon Dodd
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Wiki Commons

Monday, the Supreme Court struck down 28 legislative districts in North Carolina, saying race was the predominant factor in unconstitutionally drawing district lines. The districts were redrawn by Republicans in 2011. Five of those districts are in Mecklenburg County. 

The Supreme Court ruling sends the matter back to the lower court to reconsider whether elections should be held in 2017. Some key Republican lawmakers note the ruling does not say that special elections with redrawn maps need to be held this year. But it’s too early to say if that will be the case, says Anita Earls, the executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Her group was a plaintiff in the lawsuit.    

“It’s pretty stunning that you could read this decision that says ‘lower court go back and reexamine’ as an absolute statement that there will be no special elections. I think that the General Assembly should not be in the position of trying to frustrate these plaintiffs’ ability to get a remedy,” Earls says.  

It’s up to the lower court to decide if special elections need to be held this year. Democrats hope that newly redrawn maps and a special election would reduce the Republicans’ power in the state legislature. Democrats need to gain three seats in the House or five in the Senate to break the GOP's veto-proof super majority.