The North Carolina Supreme Court backtracked on a past ruling, allowing a gerrymandered map that was recently struck down by the same court to be reinstated.

Republicans, who regained control of the state’s Supreme Court in the midterm elections last year, joined together in the five-to-two decision. The ruling reverses a decision to throw out a map that heavily favored GOP candidates in statewide elections.

The Republican-majority court stated that the decision was an attempt to side-step political processes and remain neutral.

“There is no judicially manageable standard by which to adjudicate partisan gerrymandering claims. Courts are not intended to meddle in policy matters,” Chief Justice Paul Newby said in his majority opinion.


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Other officials aren’t buying that interpretation. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, now the Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, released a statement calling the court’s decision opportunistic.

“This shameful, delegitimizing decision to allow the unjust, blatant manipulation of North Carolina’s voting districts was not a function of legal principle, it was a function of political personnel and partisan opportunism,” Holder said. “Neither the map nor the law have changed since last year’s landmark rulings — only the makeup of the majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court has changed.”

In a separate decision, the court approved state rules to require photo identification while submitting a ballot.

The North Carolina decisions have national implications. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments from North Carolina Republicans in December, who argued the “independent state legislature” theory. They asserted states have the ability to set their own federal elections regulations – taking away power from the national government to demand equal democratic rule.

The U.S. Supreme Court was likely to weigh in on North Carolina’s December decision – which could have reset national standards for individual state power in national elections. Now that the original decision has been reversed, the Supreme Court is unlikely to release a decision on state powers.

North Carolina Republicans are expected to pick up at least three seats currently held by Democrats under the new maps.

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