The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for a new congressional voting map in North Carolina this year, rejecting a Republican bid to reinstate district lines thrown out by a lower court.
The order was one of the high court’s first since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. It came without published dissent.
A three-judge panel said Feb. 5 that the original map, drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, unconstitutionally packed too many black voters into two overwhelmingly Democratic districts. The panel gave the state until Feb. 19 to put a new map in place.
In asking the Supreme Court to block the lower-court order, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, said it would disrupt the scheduled March 15 congressional and presidential primaries. McCrory said election officials had already distributed thousands of absentee ballots and hundreds of those ballots had been returned with votes.
Democrats now hold just three of North Carolina’s 13 U.S. House districts, including seats occupied by Representatives G.K. Butterfield and Alma Adams, both of whom are black.