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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Relax, Jake. It's just politics."



For the second time in a week, the US Supreme Court has handed the North Carolina General Assembly majorities their race-obsessed heads, overturning a GOP attempt to gerrymander two congressional districts for themselves in the guise of altruism toward the black citizens whose votes they worked so hard to suppress in the other case.

Here's their roundup of commentary on the just-decided redistricting case:
In Cooper v. Harris, the justices upheld a lower court decision finding that in drawing the boundaries of two congressional districts, North Carolina relied too heavily on race. Amy Howe analyzes the opinion for this blog. Additional coverage comes from Ariane de Vogue at CNN, who reports that “the ruling sends the North Carolina legislature back to the drawing board — with significant potential implications for the 2018 midterm elections”; David Savage in the Los Angeles Times, who notes that the “ruling is the third in recent years to fault Southern Republicans for packing more black voters into districts where African Americans were already the dominant voting bloc”; Nina Totenberg at NPR; Robert Barnes in The Washington Post; Lawrence Hurley at Reuters; Richard Wolf at USA Today; Lydia Wheeler at The Hill; Adam Liptak at The New York Times; Greg Stohr at Bloomberg; Cristian Farias at The Huffington Post; Scott Bland and Elena Schneider at Politico; Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed; Lyle Denniston at his eponymous blog; and Vann Newkirk II in The Atlantic. German Lopez unpacks the decision for Vox. 
At the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen calls the decision “a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs,” maintaining that “[t]hat Justice Kagan got Justice Thomas not only to vote this way but to sign onto the opinion (giving it precedential value) is a really big deal.” In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Hasen argues that “two footnotes in the case radically rework the court’s thinking about the relationship between racial and political- party discrimination in a way that should greatly expand the ability to bring gerrymandering claims in states where race and party overlap significantly,” because under the logic of the opinion, “legislators will no longer be able to hide behind claims of partisan motivation to protect themselves from racial gerrymandering claims.” Ruthann Robson analyzes the opinion at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, and at the Election Law Blog, Richard Pildes and Justin Levitt do the same here and here, respectively. Elura Nanos weighs in on the ruling at LawNewz. In The Washington Post, Amber Phillips offers “a rundown of the redistricting landscape — and how it could affect our elections.”
The blog is also running a symposium on racially-based Southern redistricting cases heard this term. It's here.

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