Supreme Court blocks redraw of NC congressional map

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 19, 2018

"Common-Cause-Order.pdf" class="local_link" target="_blank">granted state lawmakers' request to block a lower court's order for them to redraw the 2016 congressional maps because of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.

The three-judge panel ruled that the Republican-drawn districts violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law by intentionally hobbling the electoral strength of non-Republican voters.

The order makes it likely, although not certain, -that the controversial maps will be used for the next election. The court has never declared that the inherently political process of redistricting can be too partisan.

"We are grateful that a bipartisan U.S. Supreme Court has overwhelmingly halted the lower court's 11th-hour attempt to intervene in election outcomes, restored certainty to voters and ensured that, in the coming days, candidates for office can file in the least gerrymandered and most compact Congressional districts in modern state history", Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Sen.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor would have denied the stay, according to the order.

Voter advocacy groups and Democratic voters who sued over the map - heavily weighted toward Republicans in a closely divided state - argued no delay was necessary because it would be struck down however the justices rule in the other cases. That practice is called partisan gerrymandering.

Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, agreed and said they are optimistic justices will hear and decide the case before the end of the court's term in June.

Under current North Carolina congressional boundaries, Republicans won 10 of the 13 House districts in 2016, despite getting just 53 percent of the statewide vote.

Similarly, the state GOP party released a statement applauding the Supreme Court for issuing the stay. Candidate filing for congressional and other offices starts February 12.

Now the case will await decisions on the cases from the other states during a Supreme Court term in which redistricting already figures prominently.

A three-judge panel last week determined that Republicans who drew the maps two years ago participated in "invidious partisan discrimination" by fashioning lines that benefited Republicans and their candidates at the expense of Democrats and their supporters. A majority of the panel also decided First Amendment rights to free speech and association were violated for Democrats in each district where their favored candidate had little chance to win.

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