US Supremes hear NC redistricting case

As previously posted, the United States Supreme Court on October 14 heard North Carolina’s appeal from a North Carolina State Supreme Court case holding that a 2003 State House of Representatives redistricting plan violated the North Carolina State Constitution in District 18 in Pender and New Hanover Counties.

The North Carolina Supreme Court had ordered the district redrawn in 2009 to apply to the 2010 election, but that action was stayed pending the appeal.

There appear to be three possible outcomes of the US Supreme Court decision:

1) The decision is affirmed, and the 2009 regular session must act. Unknown, however, is whether the basis of the Supreme Court decision will apply to other State House and Senate Senate Districts, and if so whether they must be redrawn for 2010 or whether the case will provide guidance for the 2011 redistricting but only New Hanover and Pender will be affected in 2009.

2) The decision is reversed.  The greatest likelihood here is that the decision will require no further action by the 2009 Regular Session.

3) This case is remanded (suggested by Justice Ginsburg, see page 23 of the oral argument transcript) for further action by the North Carolina Supreme Court based on whatever guidance it provides in the remand, which might or might not mean any action in 2009!

Another kicker in all of this is the timing of the US Supreme Court decision — it could ne handed down any time before the court session adjourns in June of 2009.

The New York Times had a good write-up of the oral arguments. The Times that while previous cases appeared to set an 50% black population threshold and House District 18 was 29% black,

“Justice Stephen G. Breyer proposed yet another number, one tied to the amount of crossover voting from whites needed to elect the minority group’s preferred candidate. ‘There’s a kind of natural stopping place,’ he said. ‘When I worked out the numbers, it seemed that natural stopping place fell around 42-43 percent.’ ” 



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