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High court ruling may give voter rights groups a strong tool

High court ruling may give voter rights groups a strong tool”

Cooper v. Harris, Monday's case, involves North Carolina's two most infamous congressional districts, District 1 and District 12. It added more African Americans to two districts that had significant black populations and had consistently elected the Democratic representatives since the 1990s.

Race can be considered in redrawing boundaries of voting districts only in certain instances, such as when states are seeking to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. To ensure compliance with the VRA, North Carolina asserted, it had drawn both districts to be majority black. Justice Neil Gorsuch was not involved in this case. At the time, progressives viewed Shaw and its predecessors as an assault on the VRA-a Republican effort to prevent states from helping black voters choose their own representatives.

The justices last week rebuffed a Republican bid to revive a strict North Carolina voter-identification law that a lower court found deliberately discriminated against black voters. This dilutes Democratic votes in neighboring districts and creates a political advantage for Republicans.

There was some truth to this idea, but also a great deal of naïveté. But critics of the voting map said the legislature was actually trying to diminish the number of districts in the state that could be won by Democrats. In Bethune-Hill, the court rejected the notion that race can predominate only when a district conflicts with non-racial traditional districting criteria, such as compactness.

As noted above, this now-invalidated congressional map was one of, if not the very most, aggressive partisan gerrymanders in modern history.

That era ended on Monday.

The 5-3 ruling, written by Justice Elena Kagan, was the latest in a series of decisions by the justices against the excessive use of race in redistricting, the decennial process of drawing new district lines for Congress and state legislatures.

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"General Flynn had a duty to be truthful in his security clearance renewal form and during his interview with security clearance investigators", Cummings wrote, noting that he's been in contact with the Justice Department and the newly appointed special counsel about his findings.

The entire court held that one of the districts was unconstitutionally devised, with five of the court's eight members voting in the case holding that the second district also was unconstitutionally devised. That's why, hours after the SCOTUS opinion dropped, a federal judge in Texas' upcoming redistricting hearing ordered state lawyers and plaintiffs in the case to submit briefs outlining how the new precedent will affect their case. Richard Hasen teaches election law at the University of California, Irvine.

The court didn't make this an absolute: Any challenge will need to demonstrate that race, not party, was the deciding factor and that the VRA applies.

Civil Rights advocates and Democrats are celebrating a legal win about redistricting today.

In a similar case in 2001 challenging the constitutionality of District 12, the challenger lost because they failed to provide an alternative map that served the legislature's political objective without producing the same racial effect. Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the fifth and deciding vote back then, declaring that he might someday embrace a challenge to a partisan gerrymander if workable standards could be agreed on. Thomas is arguably the most consistent justice on racial gerrymandering: He opposes it no matter its ostensible goal.

Cummings and other Democrats have blasted Trump and his team for failing to more carefully check Flynn's background before they brought him to the White House, while the Trump administration has attempted to blame the Obama administration for failing to properly vet Flynn earlier. While liberals and conservatives switched sides, Thomas stuck to his guns.



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