A strange Supreme Court alliance just struck a blow against racial gerrymandering in the United States.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the memorial service for his former colleague Antonin Scalia on March 1, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
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On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision holding that two congressional districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Constitution. The broad ruling will likely have ripple effects on litigation across the country, helping plaintiffs establish that state legislatures unlawfully injected race into redistricting. And, in a welcome change, the decision did not split along familiar ideological lines: Justice Clarence Thomas joined the four liberal justices to create a majority, following his race-blind principles of equal protection to an unusually progressive result.
Cooper v. Harris, Monday’s case, involves North Carolina’s two most infamous congressional districts, District 1 and District 12. In the 1990s, the Democratic-controlled state legislature gerrymandered both districts into bizarre shapes that appeared to be drawn along racial lines. (Read more)