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Cooper v. Harris

United States Supreme Court
137 S. Ct. 1455 (2017)


This case involves North Carolina’s (defendant) redrawing of two congressional voting districts. The 2010 Census showed that District 1 was underpopulated. North Carolina redrew District 1, taking most of the district’s new voters from the predominantly black neighborhoods of Durham. North Carolina sought to ensure that African Americans made up a majority of the voting population in District 1. The redrawing increased the district’s black voting-age population (BVAP) from 48.6 percent to 52.7 percent. However, in the 20 years prior to the redrawing of District 1, the district had been “an extraordinarily safe district for African-American preferred candidates.” The Census did not show a population change in District 12, but North Carolina nevertheless remapped the district to increase the BVAP from 43.8 percent to 50.7 percent. North Carolina argued that its District 12 restructuring was completed not for racial reasons but for political reasons, to gain a political advantage for Republicans by putting more Democrats in a district that already voted Democrat. This is despite public statements during the restructuring that racial considerations were behind the remapping. Harris (plaintiff) sued North Carolina, alleging that the redistricting violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court ruled in favor of Harris, invalidating the redistricting. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kagan, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Alito, J.)

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