The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a Republican bid to reinstate a map delineating North Carolina's U.S. House of Representatives districts that was invalidated as unfair to Democrats in a case that could expand the power of politicians over the conduct of elections.
The justices took up an appeal by the Republican state lawmakers of a February decision by North Carolina's top court to throw out the congressional map approved last year by the Republican-controlled state legislature.
The North Carolina Supreme Court determined that the boundaries for the state's 14 House districts were drawn by the legislature in a manner that boosted the electoral chances of Republicans at the expense of Democrats. It rejected Republican arguments seeking to shield legislature-drawn maps from legal attack in state courts.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Republican request to put on hold the lower court rulings that adopted the court-drawn map, a decision seen as boosting Democratic hopes of retaining their slim House majority in the November midterm elections in which control of Congress is at stake. Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented from that decision.
Two groups of plaintiffs, including Democratic voters and an environmental group, sued after North Carolina's legislature passed its version of the congressional map last November. The plaintiffs argued that the map violated the North Carolina state constitution's provisions concerning free elections and freedom of assembly, among others.
The North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the map on Feb. 4, concluding in an opinion released later that the way the districts were crafted was intentionally biased against Democrats, diluting their "fundamental right to equal voting power."
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