North Carolina Court Strikes Down State Legislative Map
North Carolina’s state legislative district maps were so severely manipulated to benefit Republican candidates that they violate the state constitution, a three-judge state superior court panel ruled Tuesday.
The 357-page ruling handed down in Wake County, North Carolina, by Superior Court Judges Paul C. Ridgeway, Joseph N. Crosswhite and Alma L. Hinton, struck down the state’s current legislative district maps, effective immediately, because they violated the rights of Democratic voters.
State lawmakers now have until Sep. 18 to draw new districts, and they’ve been forbidden from using any past data about election results as they determine where the new lines should go.
The judges found that the North Carolina’s GOP-controlled General Assembly had employed “surgical precision” when they “carefully craft[ed] maps that grouped many voters into districts predominantly based upon partisan criteria by packing and cracking Democratic voters to dilute their collective voting strength, thereby creating partisan gerrymandered legislative maps.”
“The 2017 legislative maps throughout the state and on a district-by-district level, when compared on a district-by-district level to virtually all other possible maps that could be drawn with neutral, non-partisan criteria, are, in many instances, “extreme outliers” on a partisan scale to the advantage of the Republican party,” the panel continued.
The judges went on to say “the effect of these carefully crafted partisan maps is that, in all but the most unusual election scenarios, the Republican party will control a majority of both chambers of the General Assembly.”
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rucho v. Common Cause, which challenged North Carolina’s congressional district map, that federal courts can’t do anything to stop partisan gerrymandering because the federal Constitution provides no “constitutional directive or legal standard” to guide the courts on how to address even blatant partisan gerrymandering.
However, the Supreme Court added that “our conclusion does not condone excessive partisan gerrymandering” and does not “condemn complaints about redistricting to echo into a void.” Rather, the Supreme Court observed that provisions of “state constitutions can provide standards and guidance for state courts to apply.”
Tuesday’s ruling was the first test of that theory.
“Today’s state court ruling in North Carolina is a major victory in the fight against gerrymandering and yet another example of politicians being held accountable in the courts for map manipulation,” said Kelly Burton, president of the National Redistricting Foundation, after the ruling was announced.
“As the ruling clearly states, Republicans in the General Assembly drew these maps to perpetuate their majorities, and the districts were drawn with ‘surgical precision’ to ensure that outcome. After a decade of politicians picking their voters, the people of North Carolina should now finally have the opportunity to vote on fair maps that allow them to choose their representatives,” Burton said.
The National Redistricting Foundation is supporting plaintiffs in this case, Common Cause v. Lewis.
North Carolina Republicans controlled the redistricting process in the state in 2011, and drew congressional and state legislative district lines that significantly benefited GOP lawmakers.
Republicans were consistently able to win more than 60% of the seats in both of the state’s legislative chambers despite only winning about half of the statewide vote. The GOP enjoyed that veto-proof majority until 2018.
In The News
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara spill that sparked the modern environmental movement, and the latest spill off Huntington Beach is prompting fresh calls for an end to such drilling. That's easier... Read More
States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed... Read More
States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed for nationwide high-speed broadband within President Biden’s infrastructure bill. The broadband-related funding of the bill itself shows the federal government recognizes broadband as essential as a... Read More
Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that... Read More
Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that the priorities and concerns of cities and counties across America are heard on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus of Former Local Elected Officials was formed... Read More
Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs... Read More
Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs organization. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states, and its authors argue their findings underscore the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the... Read More
WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House... Read More
WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House and the Senate and will likely be voted on before lawmakers head back to their districts at the end of the month. The proposal to extend... Read More
WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the... Read More
WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5. That means the most vivid of blooms... Read More