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North Carolina Congressional Map Found to Be Gerrymandering
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Summary: Judges have found the North Carolina districts in question to be evidence of gerrymandering.

A federal court ruled that the congressional district maps in North Carolina give the Republican Party an advantage in elections. The federal judges want the districts to be redrawn immediately by the GOP. The ruling marks the second time in ten years that a three-judge panel has thrown out the congressional boundaries drawn by the GOP in the state.

  
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Two years ago, the panel dismissed two districts initially drawn up in 2011 for being predominantly black. The panel ruled in that instance that there was no justification for race being used as the primary factor in forming the districts.

This latest lawsuit against the districts was filed by Democrats and election advocacy groups. They argued the latest redraw for the racially drawn districts contained unlawful partisan gerrymanders. They believe that Republican legislators went beyond what was outlined when following criteria designed to maintain their 10 to 3 majority in the state.

Judge Jim Wynn of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, “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. … no legitimate state interest justifies the 2016 Plan’s discriminatory partisan effect.”

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The General Assembly has been ordered to approve a new set of districts by January 24. This date is crucial as filing for candidates in the November congressional election begin on February 12 with the primaries set for May. The judges explained to the GOP that they would hire a redistricting expert to draw the new district boundaries if they failed to.

A spokeswoman for state Sen. Ralph Hise, chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee, indicated the committee will be appealing the ruling. They will likely reach out to the U.S. Supreme Court to interfere by blocking the enforcement of the ruling until they come to a decision on a similar case out of Wisconsin involving partisan gerrymandering.



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

Bob Phillips of Common Cause disagrees with Woodhouse. He said, “Politicians will no longer be allowed to use partisan gerrymandering in order to shield themselves from accountability to the public.”

The judges agreed with the Democrats. They found that the district lines violated the First Amendment rights of Democrats in those districts by giving their favored candidates very little chance of winning, which burdens their freedom of speech and association.

This ruling puts uncertainty on the state’s 2018 election for U.S. Senate seats. Currently, there are only three Democrats out of the state’s 13 U.S. House seats.

Other states besides North Carolina and Wisconsin have been dealing with lawsuits against district lines. A federal court ruled in favor of the congressional map in Pennsylvania, not finding that they were partisan gerrymandering.

Do you think district maps can ever be completely fair? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about the gerrymandering cases, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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