He joined the 5-3 decision to the surprise of many.
…This ruling upheld a federal district court decision striking down North Carolina’s 1st and 12th congressional districts, finding that legislators drew the lines with the intent of consolidating African American voters into two districts, hence diluting their influence in others.
Republicans have long justified this sort of gerrymandering by claiming it was in the spirit of the Voting Rights Act, which required districts to be drawn to enable African-American voters to elect their own representatives. Yet what Republicans did here was to draw oddly shaped districts with the distinct purpose of packing African-American voters into even fewer districts.
As Justice Kagan wrote in her majority opinion, the 1st district “produced boundaries amplifying divisions between blacks and whites,” while in the 12th, “race, not politics, accounted for the district’s reconfiguration.”
Voting rights advocates hailed the decision as a victory.