Republican legislators scored a partial victory on redistricting tonight as the Supreme Court agreed to block part of a decision by a three-judge federal court invalidating the state’s legislative maps. The lower court had ruled that several state legislative districts were the product of racial gerrymandering, while others violated state law, but today the justices put part of that ruling on hold while the legislators appeal the merits of the lower court’s decision.
In a brief order, the Supreme Court indicated that the lower court’s order would be stayed to the extent that it required state house districts in Wake County (which includes the state capital, Raleigh) and Mecklenburg County (which includes Charlotte) to be redrawn. The five districts at issue in those two counties had been struck down on the ground that they violated a provision of the state constitution regulating the timing of redistricting. Tonight’s order means that the lower court’s ruling on the remaining districts will go into effect, leaving replacement maps drawn by a special master in place while legislators appeal.
Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas indicated that they would have blocked all of the lower court’s ruling, while Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have allowed all of the lower court’s decision to go into effect. If the other five justices disagreed with the result reached tonight, they kept that disagreement to themselves.