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It’s reasonably safe to say that there are few vital issues on which the United States Supreme Court has been so consistently inconsistent of late than in the area of so-called “racial gerrymandering”–the consideration, in pursuit of federal voting rights laws, of racial data in considering congressional and state legislative districting schemes.

Yesterday’s 5-4 SCOTUS decision on a North Carolina case (Bartlett v. Strickland) continues that ignoble tradition of Supreme confusion.

In other words, if you don’t want to get into all the legal complexities, yesterday’s decision could be bad news for the Democratic Party, and for the biracial coalitions that the Democratic Party so often depends on for success. Indeed, if, as expected, the election of an African-American president heralds a growing willingness of white voters to cross racial lines (as black voters, of course, have so often had to do), reducing those “crossover” districts could reduce the number of minority candidates in office–a rather perverse outcome given the overriding purpose of the Voting Rights Act.

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