Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Once Again, 3-Judge Panel Finds Illegal Gerrymandering in North Carolina

Where it's all gonna end up
A federal court ruled yesterday that Republicans in North Carolina unconstitutionally gerrymandered US congressional districts in 2016 to ensure Republican “domination of the state’s congressional delegation.” The three-judge panel struck down the map and ordered the state’s General Assembly to come up with a substitute by Jan. 24.

If this ruling stands (and the NC GOP has promised to appeal to The Supremes), it will be a landmark decision. Judicial objection to gerrymandering for partisan gain is relatively new territory, with legal standards unsettled by the U.S. Supreme Court. Indeed, the Supreme Court has never struck down a redistricting plan on the basis of partisan gerrymandering.

But the three-judge panel that ruled yesterday had a rather unique "smoking gun": Republican leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly openly conceded that the 2016 map was drawn to benefit Republicans.

They hired a consultant from the Republican National Committee to draw the map and excluded Democrats from the process, the court panel said. That consultant, the court said, testified that he was told “to minimize the number of districts in which Democrats would have an opportunity to elect a Democratic candidate.” NC House Rep. David Lewis attempted to justify the criteria by saying “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”

“We find that the General Assembly drew and enacted the 2016 plan with intent to subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican control of North Carolina’s congressional delegation,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jim Wynn wrote in the majority opinion. Wynn added that the evidence shows the “plan achieved the General Assembly’s discriminatory partisan objective.”

What happens now? Republicans will appeal. The Supremes will put a stay on the order issued yesterday and will combine this North Carolina case with two other gerrymandering cases currently before them (Wisconsin and Maryland). The January 24 deadline for redrawing the districts will come and go, and ultimately the Court will rule that partisan gerrymandering in the age of Trump is A-OK. That's my best guess.

In other words, I fully expect candidates will be running and we'll be voting according to the maps drawn in 2016. Hope I'm wrong.

1 comment:

J.W. Williamson said...

As expected, Republicans have petitioned for a stay on the 3-judge panel's decision.