Thursday, August 05, 2021

A New NC Gerrymander Is Coming! Only Our Courts Can Protect Us


The Republican boss who loves
red-lining Democrats

The U.S. Census Bureau will release by August 16 in-depth demographic statistics from the 2020 Census that will be used to redraw legislative voting districts in North Carolina. We already know that North Carolina will gain one US Congressional seat, our 14th.

In other words, you're about to witness gerrymandering by the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly like you've never seen it before, as they jigger those Census blocks to give Republicans 10 of those 14 Congressional districts. Take that to the bank.

And you can expect that several of those Democrats elected to the General Assembly in the 2018 Blue Wave and in the 2020 Trump backlash will find their districts malformed into reelection nightmares. Several will probably be double-bunked with fellow Democrats to ensure building the Republican majorities. Republicans love double-bunking Democrats, because there's nothing more rejuvenating than the howls of your mortally wounded enemies. Right?

The other great fun for Republican map-drawers will be figuring out how to dilute the state's urban vote by carving up neighborhoods in our cities and pairing them with adjacent deep-red rural areas.

The last defense against these dark arts will be the state's courts. In 2019, after the US Supremes declined to invalidate new NC maps for partisan gerrymandering, a three-judge superior court panel nevertheless struck down Republican redistricting maps for NC House and Senate seats, declaring that they violated the North Carolina state constitution’s provisions for free elections, free speech, and equal protection: 

"In the first state court decision since the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on partisan gerrymandering, three Wake County judges ruled that the GOP-controlled legislature had with 'surgical precision' diluted the value of Democratic votes to ensure that the Republican Party would win majorities in both legislative chambers 'in all but the most unusual election scenarios.' The court gave the legislature two weeks to create new nonpartisan district maps for the 2020 election. In a 350-page ruling, the judicial panel found that 'the 2017 enacted maps, as drawn, do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting.' Republican state Senate leader Phil Berger, a key architect of the redistricting plan, decried the court’s decision as an attempt to 'game' the redistricting process but signaled that GOP lawmakers would abide by the decision and carry it out.

You think that Berger and his boys have had a change of their stripes because some North Carolina judges called them out in 2019 for violating the state's constitution? I doubt it, but like any depression-prone progressive, I still have to believe that maybe the courts will stand in the breach again next year.

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