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Supreme Court rejects GOP efforts to block new congressional maps in North Carolina, Pennsylvania

Republicans had asked the high court to block maps chosen by state courts from being used over the next decade.
Image: Supreme Court building exterior
Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The Supreme Court on Monday shot down emergency appeals from Republicans in North Carolina and Pennsylvania who sought to block redistricting maps selected by state courts.

Legislators in both states typically draw the congressional maps, but lawsuits challenging them prompted state courts to intervene and establish new district boundaries that are considered wins for Democrats.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court chose a map submitted to the state court by Democratic voters, after voters sued over the Republican-controlled Legislature and the Democratic governor’s inability to agree on a map. In North Carolina, the state Supreme Court let a nonpartisan panel of experts draw a new map after concluding the Republican state Legislature’s map violated the state Constitution by favoring Republican voters.

The new maps are expected to benefit Democrats more than those proposed by the Republican-controlled state legislatures.

In the Pennsylvania case, the Supreme Court declined to issue an injunction in an order published without any opinions, allowing the case to continue in federal court.

In the North Carolina case, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said in a dissenting opinion Monday that they wanted to take the case.

“This case presents an exceptionally important and recurring question of constitutional law, namely, the extent of a state court’s authority to reject rules adopted by a state legislature for use in conducting federal elections,” Alito said, writing for the three justices.

“We will have to resolve this question sooner or later, and the sooner we do so, the better. This case presented a good opportunity to consider the issue, but unfortunately the Court has again found the occasion inopportune,” he wrote.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh signaled an openness to addressing the issue in North Carolina but said it was too close to the election to force the state to redraw its maps.