Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Judges Strike Down North Carolina Congressional Map Over Gerrymandering

Illustration of the State of North Carolina silhouette map and flag. Its a JPG image Enrique Ramos Lopez iStock
Melinda Barton | 14 January, 2018, 20:35

After all, Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican who has led redistricting efforts, said at one point the maps were drawn to give his party a big majority.

Closer to home, the motion notes the candidate filing period is due to begin here in just about a month.

By midday Friday, the federal judges had not yet ruled on the state legislative case but told attorneys last week that they were aware of the tight timeline before the filing period.

Republicans have now requested a Supreme Court decision by January 22.

Basically, their ruling says congressional districts as drawn violated the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection clause because they were created to favor Republicans over Democrats.

"We're enormously gratified on behalf of our clients and all voters in North Carolina that no one will have to endure another congressional election under an unconstitutional map", said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented some of the challengers.

Both legal arguments were made in the North Carolina case, the first ruling in which the federal courts have found congressional districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

North Carolina voters have elected congressional representatives in three election cycles this decade with maps that have been declared unconstitutional by the courts. "The court was clear in demanding a real remedy before the 2018 elections, and we expect the General Assembly to respect that order".

In the state's 2011 redistricting plan, voters claim Democratic state officials meant to dilute the votes of Republicans in the state's 6th Congressional District who supported the Republican incumbent, then-Rep.

Republicans, however, promise an appeal. The GOP legislators are likely to appeal and ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the ruling while the justices consider the Wisconsin case.

Although the federal ruling is a win for Democrats, many Republicans have broken with their party over gerrymandering. Mark Johnson, an election law and First Amendment expert at the University of Kansas, said the case - the first in which a federal court has struck down a statewide congressional map because of partisan districting - will have long-lasting legal effects. The Gill decision could have sweeping consequences for redistricting processes across the nation.

The Supreme Court already heard arguments in one partisan gerrymandering case out of Wisconsin.

And Republicans, woozy with having power over redistricting after 100 years or so, simply couldn't control themselves and drew legislative and congressional districts to ensure their power, their majority - which they won under old maps, fair and square - would be maintained, no matter how skewed the district designs were.