A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit State Court of Appeals has ruled that North Carolina's redistricting map for state house and senate members, redrawn in 2011 by the Republican-led General Assembly, is unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.
The unanimous decision was written by Judge James Wynn:
"After careful consideration of the evidence presented, we conclude that race was the predominant factor motivating the drawing of all challenged districts. Moreover, Defendants have not shown that their use of race to draw any of these districts was narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest. In particular, Defendants have not shown that their use of race was reasonably necessary to remedy a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act."
The court ruled that 28 of the districts were racial gerrymanders.
In the 167-page ruling, the court also determined that new maps could not be re-drawn in time for the 2016 election, but ordered that new maps must be created for 2018.
Redrawing the maps before this year's November election would "would cause significant and undue disruption to North Carolina's election process and create considerable confusion, inconvenience, and uncertainty among voters, candidates, and election officials," the ruling said.
The ruling reverses an earlier court order that rejected arguments of Democratic voters, civil rights groups and election advocates who sued over the Legislative district lines and argued they were racially gerrymandered.