North Carolina Must Redraw Its Congressional Map After Gerrymandering

North Carolina Must Redraw Its Congressional Map After Gerrymandering

A panel of United States federal judges have ruled that North Carolina's congressional district voting map is unconstitutional and illegally favours Republicans. The new map prompted a new round of lawsuits. "Partisan gerrymanders are quite simply undemocratic".

The Supreme Court has been willing to invalidate state electoral maps on the grounds of racial gerrymandering, as it did last May when it found that Republican legislators in had drawn two electoral districts to diminish the statewide political clout of black voters.

The ruling was the first time that a federal court had blocked a congressional map because the judges believed it to be a partisan gerrymander, and it deepened the political chaos that has enveloped North Carolina in recent years.

The three-judge panel's decision (pdf) on Tuesday may have been unique in its stand against extreme partisan redistricting, but it was not the first time North Carolina's Republican-drawn congressional map has been struck down for violating the constitutional rights of voters. The state legislature has been ordered to go back and redraw the district lines before the upcoming midterm elections in November.

The judges ordered the General Assembly to approve another set of districts by January 24.

The possibility for delay, however, will soon run up against February filing deadlines for the North Carolina congressional races.

Three federal judges ordered the state legislature in July to redraw its General Assembly districts, which ended up effecting 28 of the state's 170 districts, The Hill reported. "Nor could they. Neither the Supreme Court nor any lower court has recognized any such interest furthered by partisan gerrymandering", U.S. Circuit Judge James Wynn wrote in the majority opinion. That case involves legislative districts.

"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", Democratic Chairman Wayne Goodwin said.

The US Supreme Court has yet to rule on partisan gerrymandering, but the high court is now considering to two cases - one from Wisconsin and another from Maryland. "So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country".

During a trial in October in Greensboro, attorneys for Republican mapmakers argued that the plaintiffs had blown the partisanship factor out of proportion, saying aspects like incumbent protection and district compactness were considered.

The court agreed that the Constitution was violated in all of those cases and said that the state could not hold another election with the map drawn the way it is, according to the Huffington Post.

"This is a hostile takeover of the North Carolina General Assembly and legislative bodies across the U.S. The unprecedented usurping of legislative authority by Judge Wynn will most certainly be stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court".

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