Despite Republicans' best efforts, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to put a stay on a lower court ruling tossing out their gerrymandered maps.
The Supreme Court late Friday declined to put on hold a lower court ruling that invalidated congressional redistricting maps in North Carolina.
Early this month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled that maps for two districts were unconstitutional, and ordered the state to redraw their lines within two weeks. The panel said that race played an impermissible role in the drawing of the districts.
The state redrew the maps but asked the Supreme Court to grant a stay that would allow the old maps to remain in effect pending further appeal.
Late Friday, the Supreme Court declined to do so. As customary, it did not release the vote tally for the decision.
This means the March 15th primary is now to be delayed until June, after the maps have been adjusted for obvious racial gerrymandering.
Of course, Republican lawmakers in the state deny race could possibly have had anything to do with it.
“Race was not considered, and is not present in these reports,” State Representative David R. Lewis, a Republican and co-chairman of the redistricting committee, told his colleagues on the House floor Friday. But Democrats argued that Republicans erred in ignoring race altogether. Representative G. K. Butterfield, an African-American, wrote to state legislative leaders, saying that the court “stated that race should not be the predominant factor in drawing the districts. However, the court did not say that race should not be a factor at all.”
Mr. Butterfield added that drawing districts that “do not protect the voting interest of African-American communities” was a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
In an interview Friday, Mr. Butterfield said the proposed new boundaries for his district, which covers most of urban Durham County, had not changed so much that he would have to seriously alter his election strategy. Under the proposal, the district would still have a large number of African-American voters.
House Democrats on Friday also assailed Republicans for stating that the new map was drawn up to ensure that they would enjoy a partisan advantage. While Democrats also acknowledged that their party had engaged in its share of partisan gerrymandering in the many decades that it controlled the legislature, they argued that Democrats did not engage in the practice to the same degree.
Sure race had nothing to do with it.
Here's another interesting tidbit. We don't know how the vote broke down at the Supreme Court for this, but rumor has it that Justice Scalia had planned to vote for the stay. It's not clear whether that vote would have changed this outcome, but it certainly makes for some interesting speculation, doesn't it?