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September 2019, Week 1

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 		 [Republicans are not appealing the court ruling. The state
legislature now must draw a nonpartisan map by September 18 — and
“in full public view.”] [https://portside.org/] 

 NC COURT ORDERS STATE’S LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS TO BE REDRAWN  
[https://portside.org/2019-09-06/nc-court-orders-states-legislative-districts-be-redrawn]


 

 Gabriella Novello 
 September 3, 2019
WhoWhatWhy
[https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/09/03/breaking-news-nc-court-orders-states-legislative-districts-to-be-redrawn/]


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 _ Republicans are not appealing the court ruling. The state
legislature now must draw a nonpartisan map by September 18 — and
“in full public view.” _ 

 Lead judge Paul Ridgeway, Superior Court Judge for Wake County, talks
during the first day of the gerrymandering trial challenging North
Carolina's legislative district lines on Monday, July 15, 2019, TNS
via ZUMA Wire 

 

As the battle over gerrymandering shifts to the states, fair-map
advocates scored a major victory Tuesday when a panel of three
judges ordered
[http://www.commoncause.org/north-carolina/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2019/09/Common-Cause-v.-Lewis-trial-court-decision-9.3.19.pdf] North
Carolina lawmakers to redraw the state’s legislative districts
within the next two weeks.

In the latest court battle, a panel of three judges in the Wake County
Superior Court ruled unanimously
[http://www.commoncause.org/north-carolina/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2019/09/Common-Cause-v.-Lewis-trial-court-decision-9.3.19.pdf] Tuesday
in _Common Cause v. Lewis_ that North Carolina’s legislative maps
are so severely gerrymandered for partisan favor that they were drawn
with “surgical precision.”

The state legislature now must draw a nonpartisan map by September 18
— and “in full public view.”

‘Significantly Tainted’

The court also found that the General Assembly drew its legislative
map in 2017 with the intent of “packing and cracking Democratic
voters to dilute their collective voting strength.”

Stanton Jones, an attorney with Arnold & Porter who represented Common
Cause, said during a call with reporters that the court placed strict
conditions on the General Assembly for the redistricting timeline. The
previous maps, he added, must be thrown out in the process.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued a statement after the
ruling confirming that the legislature will “follow the court’s
instruction to move forward with the adoption of a nonpartisan map.”

Inbox: @SenatorBerger
[https://twitter.com/SenatorBerger?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] says #NCGA
[https://twitter.com/hashtag/NCGA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw] will
NOT appeal today's partisan gerrymandering ruling and will draw a
nonpartisan map #ncpol
[https://twitter.com/hashtag/ncpol?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw]
pic.twitter.com/UGmwCQaT0F [https://t.co/UGmwCQaT0F]

— Nick Ochsner (@NickOchsnerWBTV) September 3, 2019
[https://twitter.com/NickOchsnerWBTV/status/1168998919885508608?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw]

The State House and Senate maps are “significantly tainted in that
they unconstitutionally deprive every citizen of the right to
elections for members of the General Assembly conducted freely and
honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the
People,” Superior Court Judges Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite, and
Alma Hinton wrote in their ruling.

“No past election data can be used again,” Bob Phillips, executive
director of Common Cause North Carolina, said during the conference
call. The legislature is also prohibited from using previous maps as a
guideline for drawing its new districts.

The court-imposed requirements
[http://www.commoncause.org/north-carolina/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2019/09/Common-Cause-v.-Lewis-trial-court-decision-9.3.19.pdf] are
the kinds of things that advocates for legislation have dreamed of and
wanted for so long, Phillips added.

The ruling provides a framework for other states to use in evaluating
their own redistricting, Jones said. Several state constitutions
around the country include Free Election Clauses, which Tuesday’s
ruling is based on.

Kathay Feng, national redistricting director with Common Cause, said
that the case was “a person’s words ringing from the grave.”

“Thomas Hofeller was the chief mapmaker for North Carolina’s
Republican-controlled legislature,” she said. When Hofeller, a
Republican strategist and gerrymandering guru
[https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/07/22/the-supreme-courts-recent-decisions-cement-minority-rule/],
died a year ago, he left behind a hard drive containing his efforts to
add a citizenship question to the census and draw North Carolina’s
map along partisan lines. His daughter gave it to Common Cause after
his death and it was used in their lawsuit.

The US Supreme Court ruled in June that it lacked the constitutional
authority to rule on partisan gerrymandering and left the issue up to
the states. This sparked fair-maps advocates to spend
[https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/07/17/fair-maps-advocates-spend-big-bucks-to-end-gerrymandering/] millions
of dollars in state legislative races and on legal challenges.

In 2018, Common Cause filed a lawsuit
[https://www.commoncause.org/north-carolina/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/11/Common-Cause-v.-Lewis-Fact-Sheet-2.13.19.pdf] against
North Carolina State Rep. David R. Lewis (R), senior chairman of the
House Select Committee on Redistricting, alleging
[https://www.commoncause.org/north-carolina/resource/common-cause-v-lewis/] that
the state’s map violated the Equal Protection Clause of the
Constitution. The court agreed, citing Hofeller’s trove of records.

The Fair Elections Clause in North Carolina’s state constitution
guarantees voters the right to free and fair elections, which the
Superior Court argued is the “cornerstone of our democratic form of
government.”

“In the context of the constitutional guarantee that elections must
be conducted freely and honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully,
the will of the People, these clauses provide significant constraints
against governmental conduct that disfavors certain groups of voters
or creates barriers to the free ascertainment and expression of the
will of the People,” the ruling said.

Feng said election integrity activists expect additional evidence to
come forward as Common Cause continues its litigation efforts to end
partisan gerrymandering.

“It’s time for us to reveal the truth and establish clear
standards [on redistricting],” Feng said.

_Gabriella Novello [https://whowhatwhy.org/author/gabriella-novello/]
is Election Integrity Fellow at WhoWhatWhy._

_Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?
Help WhoWhatWhy with a tax-deductible contribution.
[https://whowhatwhy.org/donate]_

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