Case Study – Rucho v. Common Cause

Lesson Duration

In 2016, a federal court ordered North Carolina to redraw its congressional districts because the existing map was unconstitutional because it included districts that were racially gerrymandered. When the General Assembly in North Carolina redrew the districting map, ensured that 10 of its congressional districts remained “Republican,” while 3 remained “Democratic” by using political criterion. This was challenged in court, and the case went to the Supreme Court.

The issues - 

  1. Do the plaintiffs have legal standing to sue North Carolina for drawing its congressional map as an extreme partisan gerrymander?
  2. Can the courts hear a case challenging a state’s congressional map as an extreme partisan gerrymander?
  3. If so, did North Carolina draw its congressional map using a political criterion, in violation of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, or the Elections Clause?

The case study provides:

  • audio of oral argument excerpts from Rucho v. Common Cause, March 26, 2019 (with transcript);
  • background on the legal issues in the case;
  • facts of the case;
  • key legal definitions;
  • argument summaries for the appellants and the appellees; and
  • focus questions for fostering classroom discussion

tags: one-person, one-vote; proportional representation


American Bar Association