Once again, a federal court has ruled that North Carolina Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally used race in their decision-making.
They did it in setting congressional districts. They did it in passing an overhaul to the state’s voting law. And now a federal panel has ruled that lawmakers engaged in an unconstitutional use of racial gerrymanders in setting state House and Senate legislative districts.
The three-judge panel was unanimous: “Race was the predominant factor motivating the drawing” of the 28 House and Senate districts that were challenged.
The judges say Republican lawmakers misunderstood the Voting Rights Act. The state went from having nine majority black districts in 2010, to 32 after the 2011 redistricting. The districts that are not majority black were more likely to vote Republican.
And they did. Republicans gained 12 seats in 2012 – enough to give them a veto-proof supermajority.
Nothing changes for the 2016 general election, however. The judges say there’s not enough time to redraw the maps and get court approval. So, they ordered lawmakers to redraw the maps next year for the 2018 election.