Civil Rights Groups and Black Voters Sue Over New North Carolina Congressional and Legislative Maps

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, Common Cause and individual Black voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s new congressional and legislative districts that were enacted in October by the Republican-controlled Legislature. 

The North Carolina Legislature’s redrawing of the state’s congressional and legislative maps ensued nearly five months after the North Carolina Supreme Court’s newly constituted Republican majority overturned its prior decisions prohibiting partisan gerrymandering in an April 2023 decision. 

The new lawsuit filed earlier today alleges that all three sets of maps are intentionally discriminatory and were drawn to diminish the voting power of Black North Carolinians in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). According to the complaint, the Legislature dismantled longstanding Black-opportunity districts and targeted Black voting power in the northeastern part of the state — home to North Carolina’s Black Belt — along with other areas. 

The plaintiffs seek newly drawn maps before the 2026 election cycle, noting that the Legislature intentionally delayed drawing the districts to “frustrate” judicial review ahead of the 2024 election. The complaint also underscores how the Republican-controlled Legislature ignored recommendations from nonpartisan civil rights and voter advocacy organizations about how to draw fair districts and provided little opportunity for public input on the state’s redistricting proposals.

The lawsuit brings claims against multiple state Senate districts. 

The plaintiffs allege that 1st and 2nd Senate Districts — which sit in the northeastern part of the state in the heart of North Carolina’s Black Belt — unlawfully deprive Black voters of electoral power by “cracking” them across these two districts and combining them with overwhelmingly white coastal communities. The complaint notes that although Black voters can elect their preferred candidate in the nearby 5th Senate District, they should be afforded that same opportunity within an additional, VRA-complaint Black Belt district.

The complaint additionally argues that the state Senate map undermines Black voting power in the southeastern portion of the state — specifically in the Wilmington area — by unlawfully moving Black voters from the 7th Senate District to the 8th Senate District where their votes are less powerful. The plaintiffs refer to this move as a “textbook” example of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. 

The lawsuit challenges other state Senate Districts in Mecklenburg County for having an artificially low population and extremely low percentage of Black voters, arguing that they were “drawn to systematically diminish the voting power of Black residents” — and elevate the electoral power of white voters. 

The plaintiffs assert that the state House districts likewise diminish Black voting power in the Black Belt. 

The new lawsuit challenges state House Districts in the Black Belt, contending that “Black voters in northeastern North Carolina are consistently submerged in white majorities, in districts where they will be defeated at the ballot box by larger white populations.” The complaint specifically challenges the 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 24th, 25th and 32nd House Districts for violating Section 2 of the VRA. 

Under the current map, Black voters can only elect their preferred candidates in three House districts in the northeastern area of the state — the 8th, 23rd and 27th House Districts. However, the plaintiffs maintain that Black voters should have the opportunity to elect their candidates of choice in at least six Black Belt House districts. 

The new legal challenge also brings claims against House districts in Wake County and Winston-Salem, where the plaintiffs argue districts have artificially high or low Black populations that serve to diminish Black electoral power.

The lawsuit also challenges the new 2023 congressional map.

The plaintiffs mount a VRA claim against the 1st Congressional District, alleging that the “General Assembly intentionally diluted the voting power of North Carolina’s Black voters in the Black Belt by redrawing Congressional District 1 to reduce the opportunity there for Black voters to elect a candidate of their choice.” 

Lastly, the lawsuit asserts that the congressional map unlawfully cracks historic Black populations in the “Triad area” — made up of Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem — across the 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th Congressional Districts in contravention of the VRA. 

The new lawsuit comes on the heels of two other federal lawsuits brought against North Carolina’s new maps: In November, Black voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new state Senate districts under Section 2 of the VRA and in December, Black and Latino voters brought a legal challenge to the congressional map under the U.S. Constitution. 

At a press conference held this afternoon, North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP President Deborah Maxwell stated that “what we want is equity in the voting rights of Black people and all people within the state of North Carolina.” 

Read the complaint here.

Learn more about the case here.