Federal judges rule NC electoral map unconstitutional

Illustration of the State of North Carolina silhouette map and flag. Its a JPG image

Enrique Ramos Lopez iStock

A panel of federal judges Wednesday effectively upheld Pennsylvania's often-criticized congressional district map, declining to take up a novel challenge that sought to have it declared unconstitutional as gerrymandered to favor the party in power.

"The court called them on it, saying it was unconstitutional", said the governor.

Constitution Daily contributor Lyle Denniston wrote for us last month about the significance of the Court's decision to expand its consideration of partisan gerrymandering cases.

However, it is the second time in a decade the Republican-controlled state General Assembly's congressional boundaries have been thrown out by federal judges.

"The North Carolina court adopted the same definition of partisan gerrymandering as the Supreme Court: a district plan that aims to benefit a particular party and in fact does so severely, durably, and unjustifiably", said Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a law professor from the University of Chicago.

The results suggest that the same wave that swept Alabama Democrat Doug Jones into the U.S. Senate and led to unexpected Democratic victories in the Virginia legislature will lift North Carolina legislative candidates, said Fred Yang, a partner with the national Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates.

The judges' decision found illegal partisan gerrymandering in the 2016 congressional map.

The shapes of the gerrymandered districts were "motivated by invidious partisan intent" by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature, the court said.

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The state's Republicans are vowing to overturn the ruling. There is now no law against the process, however the outcome of the Wisconsin gerrymandering case could alter that.

McGhee said the courts haven't cemented district shapes as a requirement of gerrymandering. A nonpartisan congressional map would likely swing at least two - and as many as five - of the Tar Heel State's House seats into the Democratic column.

The state has already had its district maps struck down by the courts, according to The Hill.

The time for making those decisions and formulating plans for a campaign is bearing down on them. "But that is not a choice the Constitution allows legislative mapdrawers to make". One expert for the plaintiffs computer generated 1,000 maps using "the non-partisan criteria included in the Committee's Adopted Criteria: population equality, contiguity, minimizing county and VTD splits, and maximizing compactness".

There's racial gerrymandering, when mapmakers draw districts that dilute the influence of a particular race or community. As a result of this ruling, North Carolina's legislature has been ordered to draw up new congressional districts by January 24, establishing a judicial precedent that could reverberate to other partisan gerrymandering cases throughout the country. He proposed his own version, which consists of less-fragmented districts.

"Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around", she said. It also names Gov. Tom Wolf, members of the General Assembly and other state officials.

In the debate, House redistricting chief Rep. David Lewis explained the map with the following justification: "I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats". The only thing that is clear is that the map is politically gerrymandered - and that is by design.

The court found the plan "exceeds the General Assembly's delegated authority under the Elections Clause" because, in part, it "represents an impermissible effort to "dictate electoral outcomes" and 'disfavor a class of candidates'".

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