Judges order overhaul of North Carolina's partisan congressional districts
Judges order overhaul of North Carolina's partisan congressional districts
Gerrymandering dates back to the early 19th century and the nefarious activities of Elbridge Gerry
12 January, 2018, 17:39
If they can not agree, as the failed to in the Covington case, the court will appoint its own expert. Legislative leaders had already said they might have to react to court redistricting decisions during this session, not just because of this case but due to a separate lawsuit targeting state House and Senate districts.
As for the shapes of NC's congressional districts and whether they resemble monsters, some Washington Post reporters say they see not only ghastly images - but also at least one squirrel, dog and Sherlock Holmes, among other things. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, North Carolina has one of the most extreme cases of gerrymandering in the country which is responsible, along with gerrymandering in MI and Pennsylvania, for up to 10 extra Republican seats in all elections since 2011.
Woodhouse focused his critique on Wynn, a former North Carolina state judge nominated to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Barack Obama.
A three-judge panel on Tuesday invalidated the map drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2016, calling it improper partisan gerrymandering. But he said there was plenty of evidence to show that legislators set about "entrenching Republican candidates in power by dictating the outcome of" the election.
Although the federal ruling is a win for Democrats, many Republicans have broken with their party over gerrymandering. Partisan gerrymanders have been accepted in the past, but these cases could create new precedents, changing the way election maps are drawn nationwide. However the court rules will be perceived as partisan, he added, "and that is going to cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court in the eyes of the country". But in this case, Republicans drew the border between the 13th District and 6th District right through the middle of the city, effectively splitting the Democratic population in two and ensuring that Democrats would have difficulty competing in either district.
The court had first heard oral arguments in October 2017 for the Gil v. Whitford, a case which challenged the constitutionality of a 2011 redistricting of the state of Wisconsin. He renewed his call for plaintiffs to "abandon their costly legal actions and allow the Legislature's examination of reforms to move forward". Today's decision found the map to to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander on equal protection and free speech grounds.
The judges gave the state about three weeks to file a new plan with the court so that it would be in place before the 2018 midterms. He proposed his own version, which consists of less-fragmented districts. It also names Gov. Tom Wolf, members of the General Assembly and other state officials.
The consultant hired by Republican lawmakers to draw the maps testified that following instructions from the lawmakers, he sought "to minimize the number of districts in which Democrats would have an opportunity to elect a Democratic candidate". The only thing that is clear is that the map is politically gerrymandered - and that is by design. So to some extent it is a matter of degree, said Dr. Prysby.
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