Pender County is in the legal spotlight this week as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether the state of North Carolina broke the law in how it created a minority voting district. The New York Times has the analysis today, and asks the essential question, the Times writes, is “Must a minority group constitute a majority in a given district before an important protection of the federal Voting Rights Act kicks in?”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is quoted as saying Christopher Browning, N.C.’s solicitor general was ‘proposing a brave new world of coalition districts.”

The Times adds this note that Kennedy can be a bellwether of the court’s decision:

Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia, said Justice Kennedy’s comments were a good guide to the case’s probable outcome, as he has been the swing vote in similar cases.

‘Justice Kennedy seemed frustrated with the potential slippery slope that the state was falling down,” said Professor Persily, who attended the argument and had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case supporting neither party. ‘In race and redistricting cases in particular, and in redistricting cases in general, he has been the critical justice.”