The Supreme Court Just Halted a Ruling that Deemed North Carolina’s Congressional Map Unconstitutional

The stay is a big blow to Democrats hoping to retake the House of Representatives.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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On Thursday night, the Supreme Court halted a lower court ruling that ordered North Carolina officials to revise its map of the state’s congressional districts. The decision comes 10 days after a three-judge panel found that Republican lawmakers in the state had erred in drawing the state’s congressional districts to limit Democrats’ electoral power in favor of Republicans’, violating the constitution. 

As Mother Jones‘ Pema Levy pointed out at the time of the lower court ruling, the decision marked the first time a federal district court had ended a congressional map for partisan gerrymandering:

The nearly 200-page opinion states that the map “violates the Equal Protection Clause because it reflects a successful, and unjustified, effort by the General Assembly to subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican Representatives in power.” It also argues that the map violates the First Amendment by burdening free speech and free association rights of voters who do not support Republicans. Finally, the court found that the map violates the Constitution’s “grant of authority to ‘the People’ to elect their Representatives”—in other words, rather than choose their representatives, their representatives chose their voters.   

The state is now blocked from moving forward with the 2018 congressional elections using the current map, and and the court gave the legislature two weeks to create a remedial plan. Should the legislature fail to create a plan that the court deems constitutional in that time period, the court says it’s prepared to put in place a map drawn by someone it appoints. 

Now North Carolina lawmakers are at least temporarily off the hook for creating a new map; the Supreme Court decision means that the state’s congressional districts will likely remain the same through the 2018 midterms, blocking a potential outlet for Democrats in their efforts to retake the US House of Representatives. The high court is currently wrestling with two other cases in Wisconsin and Maryland over whether partisan gerrymandering can be unconstitutional. The court’s decisions will likely impact North Carolina as well. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the Supreme Court’s order. 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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