Cooper v. Harris

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: May 22, 2017
  • Case #: No. 15–1262
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KEN- NEDY, J., joined. GORSUCH, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Fourteenth Amendment, the State lacks a compelling reason for redrawing its congressional districts making those peoples of voting age predominantly black and violates the Equal Protection Clause even if it claims compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Petitioner is the governor of North Carolina that is alleged to have redrawn their congressional districts to now include two districts that have a voting age population that is predominantly black. A district court with a three-judge panel determined that Petitioner had used race as a predominant factor when redrawing the lines of those districts without being able to show that it had a compelling reason. Petitioner appealed and the U.S. Supreme Court determined that it had jurisdiction. Concurrently, another state court case came before the North Carolina Supreme Court with similar allegations. In that case, the court determined that: 1) the General Assembly was justified in using race as a factor in District 1 in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) and 2) race had not been a factor in the drawing of District 12. Before the Court, Petitioner argued: 1) issue and claim preclusion and 2) no deference to the factual findings below based on the conclusions of the state court. The Court rejected both of these arguments determining that it would defer to the lower court’s judgment on both accounts. Reaching the merits of the case, the Court determined that race had been the predominant factor in redrawing the districts and that Petitioner’s interest in complying with the VRA failed to constitute a compelling reason to justify the Petitoner’s use of race when redistricting. AFFIRMED. 

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