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Editorial: Again, NC went too far

Once again, a court is reining in the Going Too Far Gang that runs the North Carolina General Assembly — this time the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a decision Monday, the Supreme Court struck down two of the state’s congressional districts, saying race played too large a role in their creation. Involved are District 1 in the northeast and District 12 in the southwest, both heavily packed with black voters.

Monday’s ruling was the second time the Supreme Court disappointed the GOP-dominated legislature this month. Last week, the Supremes refused to review a low court’s ruling that the legislature’s 2013 voting-law rewrite was unconstitutional. The lower court said the new law targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”

The General Assembly’s Republican leadership has more than once sabotaged the will of its constituents by overreaching. On the voting law, for example, rather  than simply add a photo ID requirement, as several state have done successfully, N.C. legislators passed a sweeping rewrite that did much more. To federal judges, the law was clearly aimed at curbing the black vote.

Legislative redistricting has gone awry, too. With a veto-proof supermajority, GOP lawmakers redrew congressional and legislative district maps to even further tighten their hold on state government. More than once, their maps have failed to pass constitutional muster. Monday’s Supreme Court decision may not be the last regarding North Carolina.

Avoiding claims of gerrymandering while following all the pertinent federal laws has become just about impossible. Kagan noted that this was the fifth time one of the districts had been before the court. But recent moves by the N.C. legislature have been far from subtle.

In the past, the Republican leadership blamed unfavorable court rulings on Democratic judges, but the Supreme Court voted unanimously to affirm the lower court ruling on the northeastern District 1. On the District 12 vote, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joined liberal justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor in saying the Voting Rights Act did not justify lawmakers’ actions. (The case was argued before Neil Gorsuch joined the court.)

After so many years in the minority, Republicans swept into the General Assembly hungry for power, and they have had a feast. Now they’re experiencing indigestion. So goes the saga of the Going Too Far Gang.

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