Snakes Or Ladders!

A controversial Supreme Court decision on racial redistricting uncovers a can of worms. Or is it a string of pearls?

There can be no doubt as to what sort of beast North Carolina's 12th District is. It ambles crookedly from the textile mills of Gastonia to the skyscrapered banking district of Charlotte, through Lexington's furniture factories, picking up a voter or 10 on its way between Greensboro's downtown and Burlington's outlet malls; onward, ever onward, until it comes to rest 160 miles later among the black neighborhoods of Durham. It is narrow, as narrow in some spots as one lane of the I-85 Interstate highway. Its friends call it "a string of pearls." Most people settle for "snake" or "worm." But...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!