In 2015, a group of plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections and various state officials, challenging several of North Carolina's legislative districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiffs alleged that when the General Assembly drew its 2011 legislative plans, it had done so with two race-based policies in mind: (1) a policy of racial proportionality for both the Senate and House plans and (2) a policy that each district drawn to achieve racial proportionality should have a black voting age population (BVAP) of at least 50%, and this predominant use of race was done without compelling justification or narrow tailoring as is constitutionally required. They sought a declaration that the challenged districts were invalid and an injunction prohibiting the Defendants from calling, holding, or taking any action with respect to elections for the North Carolina General Assembly based on those districts.

On August 11, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the defendants failed to establish that each of the challenged districts was supported by a strong basis in evidence and narrowly tailored to comply with either Section 2 or Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Therefore, the challenged districts were held to be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The district court issued a final remedial order on November 29, 2016 that required the General Assembly to create a remedial legislative map for house districts by March 15, 2017, and to conduct a special election in the fall of 2017 using the new districts. The defendants appealed the district court's ruling and remedial order to the U.S. Supreme Court, and sought a stay of the district court's remedial order pending resolution of the appeal. The Supreme Court granted the defendants' application for a stay on January 10, 2017. On June 5, 2017, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed the district court's judgment that the 2011 plans were racial gerrymanders in violation of the plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment rights, but vacated its remedial order requiring a mid-cycle election and remanded the case to the district court with instructions to conduct a "careful case-specific analysis" to determine an appropriate remedy.

On August 31, 2017, the General Assembly enacted new legislative plans to be implemented for the 2018 elections, but plaintiffs objected to 12 of those remedial districts as being racial gerrymanders still or otherwise legally unacceptable. The district court agreed that nine of the districts were not acceptable, and appointed a Special Master to analyze the 2011 and 2017 plans and to create recommended plans, which were filed on December 1, 2017. On January 19, 2018, the district court rejected the plaintiffs' proposed maps and approved the General Assembly's 2017 plans, as modified by the Special Master's recommended plans, which were adopted. On January 26, 2018, the district court rejected the Legislative Defendants' motion to stay the remedial redistricting plan from taking effect, which the defendants appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On June 28, 2018, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's remedial map order, finding that its decision to override the legislature's remedial map was proper as to those districts which not been cured of the racial gerrymandering violations, but not as to those districts which were rejected on grounds other than racial gerrymandering because the district court lacked remedial authority over them.


U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina - No. 1:15-CV-00399

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 16-649 (Merits Appeal)

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 16A646 (Stay of Remedial Order); No. 16-1023 (Appeal of Remedial Order)

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina - No. 1:15-CV-00399 (on remand)

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 17A790; No. 17-1364