On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina's lawmakers unconstitutionally used race to create two congressional districts.
In the 5-3 ruling, the justices upheld a lower court's decision, which said lawmakers used race as the determining factor when zoning the districts. North Carolina officials argued the maps were not intended to racially discriminate, but to gain partisan advantage, reported the New York Times.
In her opinion of the court, Justice Elena Kagan wrote about the unclear reasons why District 1 and District 12 were created with majority Black populations.
“Although States enjoy leeway to take race-based actions reasonably judged necessary under a proper interpretation of the Voting Rights Act, that latitude cannot rescue District 1," Justice Elena Kagan said in delivering the opinion of the court. “We by no means ‘insist that a state legislature, when redistricting, determine precisely what percent minority population demands.’ But neither will we approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence and whose raison d’être is a legal mistake.”
District gerrymandering — or the use of rezoning a district for specific gain — has been a political practice for a long time. Although many politicians say the only purpose is for partisan leverage, many in opposition have stated that the practice often implores racist strategies to keep Black voters in specific districts.
The decision by the Supreme Court marks a major step in changing the gerrymandering laws in the country.