Judges Strike Down North Carolina Congressional Map Over Gerrymandering

Adjust Comment Print

According to attorney Allison Riggs, the ruling is the first time federal judges have struck down congressional districts as partisan gerrymanders. Candidate filing opens February 12 and runs through the end of the month.

This ruling puts uncertainty on the state's 2018 election for U.S. Senate seats. A divided federal court later found that Republicans, using high-speed computer technology along with new voter data, were able to draw new district lines to solidify their control of the Legislature for at least the rest of the decade, if not longer. That case points to the "efficiency gap", a theory that gerrymanders force the disadvantaged party to "waste" votes.

A month after hearing an argument challenging Pennsylvania's congressional boundaries, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that the state can keep its current district map.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin called the ruling a "major victory for North Carolina and people across the state whose voices were silenced by Republicans' unconstitutional attempts to rig the system to their partisan advantage". The judges said the invidious partisanship of the Republican-drawn maps ran contrary to the voters' constitutional right to elect their representatives.

At hearings previous year in a Greensboro courtroom, the challengers called mathematicians and other experts to elaborate on statistical models built to highlight the efficiency gap.

"It remains my belief that these cases should have been stayed, pending the Wisconsin case decision by the US Supreme Court".

In an effort to make it clear that race had not been considered in the drawing of the 2016 maps, Lewis made a comment that provided the underpinnings for the partisan gerrymander case.

"Why do we have a supermajority of Republicans in our state legislature and why do we have 10 members of Congress who are Republican and three who are Democratic?" said Cooper, a Democrat, on CNN's "New Day".

Can the May primary be delayed?

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. "Having already ignored the prerogatives of the political branches to play the primary role in elections to that degree, it is no surprise that the district court apparently does not even intend to decide which map to impose in time to comply with upcoming voter assignment and filing periods".

State Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse said the districts "are fair and were drawn following all known rules, and existing case law".

But when it comes to the U.S. House, Republicans have dominated, winning 13 of the state's 18 seats in each of the last three elections.

In that case, challengers contend that maps adopted in 2017 violate the state and federal constitutions and fail to correct the unconstitutional racial gerrymandering found in maps used for the 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections. It doesn't take a panel of federal judges to know that's wrong. That prompted the creation of a new map, the one now before the courts.