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Clarence Thomas

Voting rights tool buried in Supreme Court ruling

Voting rights tool buried in Supreme Court ruling

Sometimes the most important stuff in Supreme Court opinions is hidden in the footnotes. In Monday's Supreme Court ruling striking down two North Carolina congressional districts as unconstitutionally influenced by race, the majority buried a doozy: a potentially powerful new tool to attack voting rights violations in the South and elsewhere.

At issue in the case was whether two congressional districts drawn by the North Carolina General Assembly were unconstitutional "racial gerrymanders." A racial gerrymander exists when race — not other criteria, such as adherence to city and county boundaries or efforts to protect a particular political party — is the "predominant...