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Supreme Court turns back GOP challenges to N.C., Pa. congressional maps

Members of the the National Council of Negro Women hold a rally in support of the voting rights outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on November 16, 2021. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/fe14f7494b87cf062e068fc030afe8aa/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Members of the the National Council of Negro Women hold a rally in support of the voting rights outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on November 16, 2021. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

March 7 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court on Monday turned back efforts by Republicans to nullify new congressional maps approved by state courts in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, handing a win to Democrats.

In a pair of rulings issued late in the day, the high court opted to allow redistricting maps drawn up by state courts over the objections of Republican officials and lawmakers to remain in effect in the two states.

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The rulings came in the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections in the key states, where Democrats had objected to redistricting maps drawn by Republican-led legislatures as intentionally designed to produce GOP majorities.

In the North Carolina case, conservative justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the court's ruling, under which the state's original redistricting map will remain blocked and a substitute drawn by a state judge will remain in effect.

RELATED North Carolina Supreme Court rules gerrymandered congressional maps violate constitution

The new map could see Democrats and Republicans split the state's 14 House seats evenly, while the original map would have produced 10-4 advantage for the GOP under the 2020 election results, Politico reported.

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The case was closely watched because Republican appellants advanced a once-fringe conservative legal theory holding that only state legislatures, and not state courts, have the sole constitutional authority to draw congressional maps.

In his dissent, Alito agreed with that argument, writing that the Elections Clause of the constitution "specifies a particular organ of a state government, and we must take that language seriously."

RELATED N.J. Supreme Court dismisses Republican challenge to redistricting maps

If that view had been adopted by Supreme Court, legal analysts said it would have represented a drastic change in the way the justices see the role of the state courts.

In the Pennsylvania case, the court let stand a map authored by the state Supreme Court after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a map drawn by the GOP-controlled state Legislature.

RELATED Federal court orders Alabama congressional maps redrawn

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