The Supreme Court is taking up a pair of cases in which African-American voters maintain that Southern states discriminated against them in drawing electoral districts.
The justices are hearing arguments Monday in redistricting disputes from North Carolina and Virginia.
The claim made by black voters in both states is that Republicans created districts with more reliably Democratic black voters than necessary to elect their preferred candidates, making neighboring districts whiter and more Republican.
A federal court struck down two North Carolina districts as unconstitutional because they relied too heavily on race. In Virginia, a court rejected a constitutional challenge to 12 state legislative districts.
The justices have frequently considered the intersection of race and politics. In 2015, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four more liberal justices to order a review of Alabama legislative districts. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the Alabama legislature and the federal court that ruled on the plan had taken a “mechanically numerical” view, instead of trying to figure out what percentage of black voters were needed to elect a candidate of their choice.