Court Upholds North Carolina Redistricting Scheme Despite Alleged Racial Gerrymandering

A North Carolina "Moral Monday" protester's sign pushes back against the state's attempts to disenfranchise minority voters

A 2011 redistricting map that has drawn criticism for racial gerrymandering designed to weaken the political influence of North Carolina’s black voters was upheld Monday by a three-judge panel.

The maps may have already had an impact on North Carolina’s Democratic candidates. Despite President Obama winning more than 48 percent of the popular vote in November’s elections, Republicans won nine of 13 U.S. House seats, 33 of 50 state Senate seats, and 77 of 120 state House seats. And Republicans have used their large majorities in the state legislature to enact a radical agenda, one which has been met with massive weekly “Moral Monday” protests. The sharply conservative policies would, among other things, reject the expansion of Medicaid, implement voter identification laws with further disenfranchise minority voters, and use money allotted for public schooling to expand a school voucher program.

The NAACP and other groups opposing the law accuse the scheme of creating majority-minority districts in areas of the state where they were not needed because black-white coalitions were already electing their preferred candidates. The plaintiffs in the case have 30 days to appeal the Republican-passed plan to the state Supreme Court, but they may face a difficult road in the state Supreme Court as well: The court’s chief justice is a self-identified conservative who appointed the three-judge panel which upheld the law on Monday. Meanwhile, another of the court’s seven justices is Paul Newby, who accepted campaign donations from the Koch brothers as well as the Republican group which helped the party draft the redistricting maps. State Sen. Dan Blue told the News & Observer he expects the case to eventually end up in federal court, where it may have a better chance of success.

Joseph Diebold is an intern with ThinkProgress.