NC GOP unconstitutionally gerrymandered state's voting districts, court rules

Elias Hubbard
January 13, 2018

Pennsylvania is a political swing state by many measures.

The U.S. Supreme Court should step in to halt a lower court's partisan gerrymandering ruling in North Carolina because of an "eleventh-hour disruption", according to an emergency document filed Friday.

As long as there are five justices on the Supreme Court who believe partisan gerrymandering can be unconstitutional, she said there's no way North Carolina's plans could be considered constitutional. While there have been some smaller victories pertaining to state legislative maps, this case is the first one to likely shake up the races in the United States House of Representatives.

Either way, Tuesday's court decision is expected to affect how the state picks members of Congress.

Wynn, in the thorough and reasoned order, said: "That is not a choice the Constitution allows legislative map-drawers to make".

The Republican gerrymanders were the starting line of war on blue voters this decade. Two years later in 2013, the Supreme Court threw out the enforcement formula in the Voting Rights Act in 2013, which required changes in voting rules in covered states be cleared by the Justice Department. It also ended a program where high school students could register to vote before they turned 18.

Such arrogance is hardly surprising to anyone who's paid attention to Republican leadership in the General Assembly, but it illustrates just how important the federal ruling was Tuesday.

However, losing in court didn't stop the state's GOP from again targeting Democrats in 2016.

In the 2016 election, slightly less than half of the state's voters cast ballots for Democrats in elections for the U.S. House of Representatives. Pro-GOP groups also made extensive efforts to purge thousands of legal but inactive voters in blue epicenters.

But the process of court approval for any new maps is not scheduled to be finished until after the filing period is scheduled to start. "This is a hostile takeover of the #NCGA and legislative bodies across the U.S". The federal judges want the districts to be redrawn immediately by the GOP. It doesn't take a panel of federal judges to know that's wrong.

Moreover, there's no guarantee that Judge Wynn's decision will be the last word.

The justices might be likely to put a hold on the lower court order because they are now considering two other cases on partisan gerrymandering, including one about Wisconsin statehouse districts that is expected to determine whether maps can be challenged at all on the basis that they entrench a benefit to one political party over another. It has yet to issue a ruling in that case. "For the last dozen or so years, there weren't a lot of these cases".

If those Democratic voters choose to appeal the court's decision, the case would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. The core issue, he said, is whether elected government is going to represent the citizenry and not a minority party seizing power.

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

The cases could create a standard for determining when states have crossed the line and drawn districts to increase the political power of one party over another. They argued the latest redraw for the racially drawn districts contained unlawful partisan gerrymanders.

"And warming the heart of constitutional law professors everywhere, the court twice cited John Hart Ely, the progenitor of the argument that judicial intervention is most necessary (and most appropriate in a democracy) when there has been a malfunction of the political process", he continued. "Gerrymandering, of course, is the quintessential political malfunction".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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