Supreme Court to Hear Voting Rights Act Case

An interesting case has come up in the United States Supreme Court relating to how the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is applied to districts. According to the Wilmington Star News, the controversy over the act relates to what defines a district as being “majority minority.”

The Supreme Court appeared divided Tuesday as justices questioned lawyers for both sides over whether a majority must be a mathematical “bright line” of at least 50 percent, or whether groups of non-mathematical minorities can form coalitions with other groups of voters to elect their candidates of choice.

The case involves a mix of state district laws, and how the Voting Rights Act interacts with or supersedes them.

The Pender County Board of Commissioners sued state officials in 2004, contending that District 18 violated the N.C. Constitution’s “whole county” provision by dividing Pender County into two state House districts.

State officials defended the constitutional violation, arguing that the district had to slice the county to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

A trial court agreed, ruling that state lawmakers had no choice but to split Pender County to ensure black voters could elect a representative of their choice.

The N.C. Supreme Court reversed, ruling 4-2 in 2007 that the geographic configuration and racial composition of the district did not trigger the Voting Rights Act to apply.

The Supreme Court case thus centers on whether the North Carolina Supreme Court was right in determining that because blacks represented less than 51% of the electorate, the Voting Rights Act does not come into place.

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