Clarence Thomas Joins Liberals To Strike Down Racist Redistricting?!?!? WHAAAAAAAA????
GOOD MORNING!! IT IS NICETIMES AGAIN AT THE SUPREME COURT! HOORAY!!
North Carolina's Republican legislature prides itself on being the most brazen electoral ratfuckers in the country. Just last week the Supreme Court told them to GTFOH with their voter suppression. And yesterday North Carolina managed to get a unanimous Court, including Thomas and Alito, to call them out on their racist gerrymandering. How balls out racist are you if Thomas and Alito think you went TOO FAR?!?!?!
Even better, the decision establishes a new precedent that the Court will not tolerate gerrymandering that uses race as a proxy for political party. Poor North Carolina won't be able to draw a line around all the brown people and defend it by saying they were just trying to corral all the Democrats in one district. Sad!
Yesterday's decision in Cooper v. Harris, 581 U. S. ____ (2017), throws out a pair North Carolina Congressional Districts which were redrawn after the 2010 Census. Both districts had slightly less than 50% African American voters, but both consistently elect Democratic Representatives because NEWSFLASH not all white people vote Republican. North Carolina redrew the Districts' boundaries specifically to pack them with black voters from other Districts. The Court tossed both Districts and told North Carolina that they are BAD RACISTS WHO SHOULD FEEL BAD. Well, more or less.
District 1 Holding: OH, COME THE FUCK ON!
District 1 is in the north-eastern part of North Carolina and included parts of Durham. After North Carolina redrew the lines, District 1 included more parts of Durham - specifically, the brown parts.
The 2010 census had revealed District 1 to be substantially underpopulated: To comply with the Constitution’s one-person-one-vote principle, the State needed to place almost 100,000 new people within the district’s boundaries.
Rucho, Lewis, and Hofeller [the Republican state legislators who spearheaded the redistricting and their demographer] chose to take most of those people from heavily black areas of Durham, requiring a finger-like extension of the district’s western line. [...] With that addition, District 1’s BVAP [Black voting-age population] rose from 48.6% to 52.7%.
At trial, North Carolina conceded the point that they had deliberately redrawn the lines to pack black voters into District 1. But they used a strange argument to justify their position: The Voting Rights Act MADE them do it.
Senator Rucho and Representative Lewis were not coy in expressing that goal. They repeatedly told their colleagues that District 1 had to be majority-minority, so as to comply with the VRA. During a Senate debate, for example, Rucho explained that District 1 “must include a sufficient number of African-Americans” to make it “a majority black district.” Similarly, Lewis informed the House and Senate redistricting committees that the district must have “a majority black voting age population.”
Spoiler Alert: NO. The Voting Rights Act does not mandate quotas for Congressional Districts. It says that states can't manipulate districts to lessen the impact of minority votes by "cracking," spreading minority voters among several districts to dilute the impact of their votes, or "packing," jamming all the minority voters into one district so they only ever get one representative.
The Justices were polite enough not to call out the North Carolina Lege for using an obviously bogus interpretation of the law to justify their racist gerrymandering.
We by no means “insist that a state legislature, when redistricting, determine precisely what percent minority population [§2 of the VRA] demands.” But neither will we approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence and whose raison d’être is a legal mistake. [Citations omitted.]
We at Wonkette are not that discreet. So we say, NO ONE BUYS THAT BULLSHIT ARGUMENT THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD TO DO IT FOR THE VRA! YOU'RE JUST BIGOTS TRYING TO WATER DOWN BLACK VOTES! AND YOU SUCK!
District 12 Holding: WE CANNOT EVEN WITH THIS SHIT!
Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor AND THOMAS(!!!!)
District 12 is located in the south-central part of North Carolina, where it encompasses much of Charlotte, and then snakes up the coast.
District 12, for its part, had no need for significant total-population changes: It was overpopulated by fewer than 3,000 people out of over 730,000. [...] But by further slimming the district and adding a couple of knobs to its snakelike body (including in Guilford County), the General Assembly incorporated tens of thousands of new voters and pushed out tens of thousands of old ones. And those changes followed racial lines: To be specific, the new District 12 had 35,000 more African-Americans of voting age and 50,000 fewer whites of that age. (The difference was made up of voters from other racial categories.) Those voter exchanges produced a sizable jump in the district’s BVAP, from 43.8% to 50.7%. The Assembly thus turned District 12 (as it did District 1) into a majority-minority district. [Citations omitted.]
North Carolina argued that in District 12 it wasn't redistricting based on race - it was just trying to gerrymander to dilute Democratic voting power. BECAUSE THAT IS ABSOLUTELY LEGAL. USA! USA!
Five Justices didn't buy the we're-just-trying-to-stick-it-to-the-Dems argument. First, because 12th District Congressman Mel Watt testified that Senator Rucho tried that nonsense out on him about increasing BVA for the VRA.
Watt recalled that he laughed in response because the VRA required no such target. And he told Rucho that “the African-American community will laugh at you” too. Watt explained to Rucho: “I’m getting 65 percent of the vote in a 40 percent black district. If you ramp my [BVAP] to over 50 percent, I’ll probably get 80 percent of the vote, and [...] that’s not what the Voting Rights Act was designed to do.”
Second, North Carolina used the services of Republican demographer Tom Hofeller, profiled in the Atlantic article "The League of Dangerous Mapmakers." The idea that Hofeller didn't know exactly how many black voters were in a district he drew up was preposterous.
Hofeller testified that he had drawn District 12’s lines based on political data, and that he checked the racial data only after he drew a politics-based line between adjacent areas in Guilford County. But the District Court disbelieved Hofeller’s asserted indifference to the new district’s racial composition, pointing to his contrary deposition testimony and a significant contradiction in his trial testimony.
Image Credit: Mother Jones
Here, Justices Alito, Roberts and Kennedy pulled a MGOTW. They decided that the plaintiffs had to prove that North Carolina could not have come up with those maps without relying on race. An idea so out of touch with reality that even Clarence Thomas wouldn't touch it!
But five Justices said, NO MORE! Which means that even Justice Gorsuch can't overturn it next time.
So, here is your NICETIMES for the morning! This case will launch 1,000 gerrymandering lawsuits. Bring it on!
[Cooper v. Harris, 581 U. S. ____ (2017)]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.