This week, a panel of federal judges ruled that North Carolina must redraw its congressional map. The court found that the current map is “unconstitutional” as it has been drawn by Republicans seeking political advantage.
The North Carolina ruling has set a precedent in that it was the first time a federal court has blocked a congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering. The AP released an analysis in June 2017:
“The analysis found Four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts. Traditional battlegrounds such as: Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.”
Clearly the North Carolina ruling is bad for the entire Republican party and opens up opportunities for Democrats and organizations that defend voter rights to contest gerrymandering elsewhere.
In October 2017, the Supreme Court heard argument in Gill v. Whitford, which is a Wisconsin gerrymandering case that was already expected to have far-reaching implications for the November 2018 midterms. While a ruling isn’t expected for Gill v. Whitford until June or so, the North Carolina precedent bodes well for the voters of Wisconsin.
As for North Carolina, the judges ruled that the Legislature create an entirely new congressional map by January 24th, just two weeks from the date of the ruling.
Ruth Greenwood, a senior lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center who represented some of those who challenged the map said of the ruling, “Clearly, the courts have realized that they do need to step in and police extreme partisan gerrymanders, and the court recognized that North Carolina’s gerrymander was one of the most extreme in history.”
Republicans, meanwhile, are threatening to appeal. Of course they are.