Voting districts are back on the table for the North Carolina Supreme Court, but not by choice.
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the state Supreme Court ruling on Monday that upheld Republican-drawn legislative and congressional districts. It ordered the North Carolina Supreme Court to reconsider whether the redistricting of 2011 relied too heavily on race.
The legislature drew the districts following the 2010 census. Civil rights rights advocacy groups in North Carolina sued the state in Dickson v. Rucho. The case claims the legislature gerrymandered districts that packed Democratic-leaning minority voters and unfairly benefited Republicans in other districts.
Republicans in North Carolina said the districts were fair and legally within the rules of the federal Voting Rights Act.
North Carolina justices will return to the case after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a similar ruling to Alabama in March. The high court ruled that the Alabama Supreme Court must reconsider its voting district lines and today's ruling requires the state court to reconsider its decision in light of the Alabama case.
The timeframe for a decision is not yet known.
"It's possible that the court could act quickly so that either they render a decision that orders the redrawing of the maps, or it could be sent to the United States Supreme Court by the end of the calendar year, so that the United States Supreme Court can make some decisions, either frankly in North Carolina's case, or in another state's case," said Kareem Crayton, a professor at UNC School of Law.