The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request to stay a ruling that two congressional districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered in a 2011 redistricting and needed to be redrawn within two weeks.
A panel of federal judges this month barred elections in the majority black districts, the 1st and the 12th, until new maps are approved, calling the current maps unconstitutional. Congressional primaries in the state are set for March 15.
The Supreme Court gave no explanation for its decision in a one-sentence order issued late on Friday night.
The ruling said race had been the main factor when the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the boundaries and state lawmakers were not justified in using that benchmark.
Three voters filed suit in 2013 to invalidate the districts. Both are represented by Democrats, with G.K. Butterfield in the 1st, and Alma Adams in the 12th.
Broadcaster WRAL reported that while state lawmakers hoped for a stay, legislators in the state's House on Friday moved ahead and gave final approval to newly-drafted congressional maps ahead of the Court's decision to reject the stay request.
Politico reported that Justice Antonin Scalia had been expected to vote in favor of staying the ruling before his death last Saturday, though it was not immediately clear how his death affected the court's decision.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)