It’s time to Break It Down!
Yesterday, a Federal 3-Judge Panel struck down NC’s 13 Congressional districts because they found the map to be unconstitutionally partisan in their application. The Judges said the map violates the Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article 1 of the Constitution.
After determining the unconstitutionality of the district map, the panel gave North Carolina roughly 3 weeks (or until January 29th) to redraw the map and file a new plan with the court so that it will be in place before the 2018-midterm elections.
Judge James A. Wynn, of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, authored the majority opinion. In it he wrote, “Partisan gerrymandering runs contrary to numerous fundamental democratic principles and individual rights.
North Carolina’s state Senate redistricting chairman, Ralph Hise, told Reutere News that the GOP would appeal.
Meanwhile, Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the NC GOP, focused his ire at Wynn, an appointee of President Obama. As he put it:
“This is a hostile takeover of the #NCGA and legislative bodies across the US. It is incredibly disappointing that activist Judge Jim Wynn is waging a personal, partisan, war on North Carolina Republicans.”
It comes as no surprise that NC Democrats view the ruling with a different lens. To wit, the state’s Democratic Party applauded the decision. Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin issued the following statement:
“Today’s ruling is a major victory for North Carolina and people across the state whose voices were silenced by Republicans’ unconstitutional attempts to rig the system to their partisan advantage.” In addition, he called upon the legislature to draw “fair, nonpartisan maps that give North Carolina voters a voice.”
The NC General Assembly is the bicameral legislative body in the state, consisting of a House and Senate. GOP legislators hold the majority in both houses, and have enough votes to override any vetoes by the state’s Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper.
Voting in the state has been split along Party lines in recent statewide elections, such as for Governor or President. However, Republicans control 10 of the state’s 13 House seats, versus 3 for Democrats. North Carolina is currently home to the 10th largest delegation in Congress.
This is the second time in 18 months that the districts have been found unconstitutional. The panel found that while the current version got rid of racial gerrymandering (the basis for while the map was found lacking in 2016), this iteration gives Republicans decided advantages for most seats. The latest lawsuit – filed by election advocacy groups and Democrats – said the replacement for the racial gerrymander contained unlawful partisan gerrymanders. The litigants argued that GOP legislators went too far when they followed criteria designed to retain the Party’s 10-3 majority.
During the debate, according to the order, House redistricting Chief, GOP Representative David Lewis attempted to justify the criteria by saying, “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew the map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” WTH?
Pursuant to questionable nature of Mr. Lewis’ reasoning, the court rendered the following response in it’s ruling:
“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. Judge Wynn, who wrote that, added, the evidence shows “the plan achieved the General Assembly’s discriminatory partisan objective.”
According to Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, yesterday’s ruling is the first time a federal court blocked a Congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering. However, that is not a choice the Constitution allows, the court said, in its 191-page ruling. Li went on to say that if the NC case were upheld upon appeal, it would have far-reaching implications, noting:
“The court will have signaled that there are, in fact, limits of how far you can go with partisan gerrymandering.”
It is all but a foregone conclusion that this case will eventually wend its way to the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). In America, the nature of things political has always been arranged in a partisan order. However, since the election of President Barack Obama, the tension and intensity have been ratcheted up by the nth power. That in itself is an odd thing, given the narrative frequently spun after the November 2008 election is that we had entered something referred to as a post-racial era. Let me make this perfectly clear, we did not transform, mutate, or otherwise change to post-racial. Furthermore, it is not on the horizon. I laud “Me Too,” and the “Time’s Up” addendum that augments the movement. Both are long overdue. May the force be with them.
As for NC and our Congressional district maps, it’s a work in progress. Similar to post-racial, we are not yet there. One day, perhaps! But for now, we are here…”NC General Assembly Back to the Drawing Board: Déjà Vu All Over Again!”
I’m done; holla back!
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