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US Supreme Court Strikes Down Racial Gerrymandering in North Carolina

ASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the redrawing of two congressional districts by the North Carolina legislature after the 2010 census was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

“We are pleased that, once again, the Supreme Court has recognized the pernicious and discriminatory effects of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering on African American and other minority communities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil rights Under Law.  “Moreover, the Court made it clear that it would not allow states to get away with an unlawful racial gerrymandering by claiming that it’s just politics. This is a critical decision as communities prepare for the 2020 redistricting cycle, where states would still be able to purposely create legitimate majority-minority districts, consistent with this opinion.”

Before the redistricting, the two districts did not have a majority of African-American voters, but had consistently elected candidates who were the preference of most African-American voters.  In affirming the ruling of a three-judge District Court, the Supreme Court found that racial considerations predominated in the drawing of the lines of both districts. The justices also found that the State had not met its burden of justifying its line-drawing by showing it was narrowly tailored to a legitimate state interest.

The Lawyers’ Committee, together with its pro bono counsel Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, filed an amicus curiae brief in the matter.

“The Supreme Court rightly found that North Carolina had unlawfully drawn these congressional districts in such a way as to separate citizens into different voting districts on account of race,” said Bradley Phillips, partner for Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.  “That’s wrong and unconstitutional.”

Read the full opinion here:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

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