Law Professors Urge Supreme Court to Accept Case and Overturn North Carolina Redistricting Decision


On February 17, 2015, in Dickson v. Rucho, Campaign Legal Center Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert joined with a dozen other nationally recognized election law professors in a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a case and overturn a state supreme court ruling upholding North Carolina’s redistricting.  In supporting the petition for writ of certiorari, the brief from the thirteen voting rights experts emphasizes that the North Carolina’s racially gerrymandered districts violate the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause.

The law professors argue the lower court’s decision fundamentally misunderstands and misapplies U.S. Supreme Court precedent on redistricting in order to uphold North Carolina’s redistricting.  Further, the brief emphasizes that if the North Carolina State Supreme Court ruling is not overturned, it will afford states a constitutional safe harbor from which to undermine the Voting Rights Act.

“The audacity of the legislature’s attempt to use the Voting Rights Act as a shield for its racial gerrymander is outdone only by the North Carolina Supreme Court acceptance of the argument,” said Hebert.  “If the decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court is not overturned, it will provide a blueprint for widespread circumvention of the Voting Rights Act by using the landmark civil rights legislation to actually dilute the voting strength of minority communities rather than protect them.  North Carolina’s justification for their packing of minority voters and their blatant racial gerrymandering that such actions were required by the Voting Rights Act turns the Act on its head and is precisely the kind of over-reliance on race that has been rejected by the Court in previous cases.” 

In addition to Hebert (who currently teaches voting rights courses at Georgetown University Law Center and New York Law School), the other election law professors signing the brief are Campaign Legal Center board member Guy-Uriel Charles (Duke Law School), Jocelyn Benson (Wayne State University Law School), Michael Kent Curtis (Wake Forest University School of Law), Gilda Daniels (University of Baltimore School of Law), Joshua A. Douglas (University of Kentucky College of Law), Atiba R. Ellis (West Virginia University College of Law),  Justin Levitt (Loyola Law School), Eugene D. Mazo (Wake Forest University School of Law), Spencer Overton (George Washington University Law School), Terry Smith (DePaul University College of Law), Douglas Spencer (University of Connecticut Law School), and Franita Tolson (Florida State University College of Law).

To read the brief, click here.