City of Greensboro, et al., v. Guilford County Board of Elections

Voting Rights
The city of Greensboro pinned on a state map

Case Summary

Filed 7/13/2015
Decided 01/03/2018
Updated 06/07/2024

This was a federal court challenge to the North Carolina legislature’s 2015 redistricting of the Greensboro City Council. Southern Coalition for Social Justice, along with co-counsel from Brooks Pierce, challenged the 2015 redistricting on behalf of six voters (Lewis A. Brandon III, Joyce Johnson, Nelson Johnson, Richard Alan Koritz, Sandra Self Koritz, and Charli Mae Sykes) as violating the Equal Protections Clauses in the U.S. and North Carolina State Constitutions. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the prohibition against a local referendum to change the city’s election system was unconstitutional; that the legislation violated the one-person, one-vote principle by under-populating white districts and over-populating minority districts; and that one district was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

After a two-day bench trial in February 2017, the trial court invalidated the prohibition against a local referendum, held that the redistricting violated the one-person, one-vote principle under the Equal Protection Clause, and enjoined the use of the 2015 redistricting plan. In light of its other rulings, the Court did not reach the racial gerrymandering claim. A permanent injunction was granted.

Why it's Important

Racial gerrymandering prevents voters of color from electing their preferred candidates through redistricting without a compelling reason. According to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, states are required to "govern impartially [and] not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective."

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