The Supreme court has ruled that Republicans in North Carolina used race and not politics when they drew congressional districts in 2011. A lower court ruled the same, which “forced legislators to create new maps last year.” The News & Observer continued:

The 5-3 ruling, written by Justice Elena Kagan, is among a series by the justices against the excessive use of race in redistricting that state lawmakers across the country take up every 10 years after the release of new Census data.

Justice Clarence Thomas joined the majority, taking a stand with more liberal justices with whom he often disagrees.

Justice Samuel Alito dissented in part from the ruling, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. The newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, did not participate in the case.

In February 2016, a lower court found evidence that officials used race to redraw the 12th Congressional District and 1st Congressional district, both of which had Democrat representatives:

The lawsuit was brought by Mecklenburg County voters and said the 1st District was “akin to a Rorschach inkblot” weaving through 24 counties and containing only five whole counties. The district is mostly in the northeastern part of the state and included Durham, Elizabeth City, Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount, Goldsboro and New Bern.

The 12th District was 120 miles long but just 20 miles wide at its widest part. The district included large portions of Charlotte and Greensboro connected by a thin strip – “averaging only a few miles wide,” the lawsuit said – that followed Interstate 85. The district was the most litigated in the country during the 1990s, and the subject of four cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Redistricting lawsuits delayed North Carolina elections in 1998 and 2002.

Kagan wrote:

“We uphold the District Court’s conclusions that racial considerations predominated in designing both District 1 and District 12,” Kagan wrote for the high court. “For District 12, that is all we must do, because North Carolina has made no attempt to justify race-based districting there. For District 1, we further uphold the District Court’s decision that [measure] 2 of the VRA [Voting Rights Act] gave North Carolina no good reason to reshuffle voters because of their race.”

Alito in his dissent argued that the redrawn lines “are readily explained by political considerations.”

The state formed new lines to comply with the lower court’s ruling, but this also faces a lawsuit that a federal court will hear in June. The groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina filed the lawsuit, which questions “the breadth to which lawmakers can draw districts for partisan advantage.”