Three judges rule for democracy in North Carolina's congressional districts


North Carolina Republican legislative leaders asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to block enforcement of an order throwing out the state's congressional map because the lines were too partisan and directing a redraw nearly immediately.

The deadline is important because candidates for the November congressional elections begin filing for the primaries on February 12. In a devastating and almost 200-page rebuke written by Judge James A. Wynn Jr., they ordered that new, fairer districts for 2018 be drawn before the end of January.

"Simply put, after taking months to issue an opinion adopting multiple entirely novel theories of partisan gerrymandering, the three-judge court has given the General Assembly just two weeks to draw a third congressional map, which is sufficiently unlikely to pass the court's muster that the court has already made a decision to have a special master draw a competing map", Strach said in his court filing.

In his arguments on behalf of the GOP legislators who approved the maps, Clement wrote that the lower court "has used an entirely novel legal theory to hopelessly disrupt North Carolina's upcoming congressional elections".

North Carolina voters have elected congressional representatives in three election cycles this decade with maps that have been declared unconstitutional by the courts.

"The ruling comes in cases filed by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause in North Carolina stemming from maps adopted in 2016 during a special legislative session". "The court was clear in demanding a real remedy before the 2018 elections, and we expect the General Assembly to respect that order".

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North Carolina is so narrowly and deeply divided that, last November, voters ousted a conservative governor in favor of Democrat Roy Cooper - but elected a Republican lieutenant governor as his partner.

A spokeswoman for Republican state Sen. Hise and state Rep. David Lewis have led redistricting efforts in the legislature.

Although the federal ruling is a win for Democrats, many Republicans have broken with their party over gerrymandering.

So now lawmakers, meaning the Republicans in charge who are responsible for these ridiculous maps created to guarantee Republican seats in 10 of 13 congressional districts, will have until January 29 to come up with new maps to fix the partisan gerrymandering. The Gill decision could have sweeping consequences for redistricting processes across the nation.

While courts have found that gerrymandering on a racial basis is clearly unconstitutional, they had yet to rule definitively on whether partisanship alone could yield unconstitutional voting maps. That year, Republicans won 48.7 percent of the vote, but 69.3 percent of the seats.

As the clock ticks down on the North Carolina court order, a majority of the judges agreed that if the legislature won't alter the map, they would hire a redistricting expert to draw replacement boundaries.