AN EXPLAINER OF NC NAACP v. MOORE
What is Racial Gerrymandering and How Does It Weaken Voting Power
Racial gerrymandering is the practice of redrawing district maps to attempt to dilute the voting power of disenfranchised communities and communities of color. It has a direct impact on our elected officials and who represents our voice.
Racial Gerrymandering in North Carolina
In 2011, a group of extremist lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly redesigned the state’s electoral maps, using racial gerrymandering as a way to keep their legislative power.
The racially gerrymandered General Assembly then attempted to amend the state’s constitution by introducing new voting requirements – one requiring a photo ID to vote and one lowering the state income tax cap – even though federal and state courts had already found that these requirements disproportionately create barriers for African Americans, people living in poverty, and other voters of color.
But in 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the 2011 North Carolina electoral maps represented a widespread illegal racial gerrymander that targeted and disenfranchised Black voters.
What is the NC NAACP v Moore Lawsuit
In 2018, the North Carolina NAACP challenged two constitutional amendments, arguing that a racially gerrymandered legislature does not have the power to amend the state constitution. This lawsuit is known as NC NAACP v. Moore.
On August 19, 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking ruling that, for the first time in the United States’ history, placed a check on the power of a racially gerrymandered legislature.
The North Carolina Supreme Court ordered that while a racially gerrymandered legislature may continue to engage in ordinary legislative acts such as passing regular legislation, it does not have unlimited power to begin the process of amending our state constitution.
The court’s ruling represents a historic win for democracy and the people of North Carolina. However, the fight is not over. This cycle of targeted policy discrimination against people of color and the poor represents an ongoing threat to our democracy.
What Happens Next
The two amendments at issue in this case are the requirement for photo voter ID, and a lowering of the state’s income tax cap from 10% to 7%.
The court sent both amendments back to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing to determine if they fall within any of three categories of amendments that are forbidden from a racially gerrymandered legislature.
The N.C. NAACP, represented by attorneys at the Southern Environmental Law Center and Forward Justice, will push forward to provide evidence demonstrating how both amendments fall within these three categories. Mandatory photo voter ID has long been recognized as a tool to disenfranchise Black voters. And a lowering of the state income tax cap is just the latest step in a long line of racist efforts to limit the ability of our state government to fairly collect the revenue needed to support public sector through investments in everything from education to protection of the air we breathe and water we drink.
Will This Ruling Be Appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court?
All parties consistently acknowledged this case concerns solely a question of state law. Counsel for legislative defendants has made this clear in statements in court and in briefs.
What is the Current Status of the Amendments?
Since the Supreme Court reversed the prior order of the Court of Appeals, both constitutional amendments are currently void.