North Carolina Is an Endless Source of Entertainment for Redistricting Mavens

When the Supreme Court decided that partisan gerrymandering was non-justiciable in federal courts, Chief Justice Roberts proposed state courts as a possible remedy in some circumstances. The North Carolina judiciary is proving to be a model for implementing this remedy. We’ve been following the state court’s interventions regarding state legislative maps, and this week, the court weighed in on Congressional district maps.

It is North Carolina’s Congressional maps that we outside of North Carolina are most familiar with, from famously noncompact boundaries, the obvious cracking of Democratic-leaning Asheville (and the Gerrymandering 5k), and the recent special election in NC9 in response to the Republican campaign’s election fraud.

In our previous posts, we described the state court findings regarding state legislative districts. Last week, the court weighed in decisively on the state’s Congressional district map. The 2018 Congressional election in North Carolina resulted in Democrats winning three seats with over 70% of the vote and Republicans won the remaining ten with only one (unopposed) Republican winning more than 60%. Last week, a three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court approved the revised legislative maps and threw out the current Congressional maps. The ruling includes a provision to postpone the 2020 primaries if fair maps are not submitted in timely fashion.

The plaintiff in this case is the National Redistricting Foundation, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder. As with other state judicial anti-gerrymandering efforts, this case relied on finding that gerrymandered maps violated the state constitution. The key in North Carolina’s 1868 constitution is a provision that “[a]ll elections shall be free.”

BREAKING: The Wake County Superior Court has lifted the confidentiality designation on over 100,000 documents from the Hofeller gerrymandering files pertaining to Arizona, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Nassau County, Nueces County and Galveston in Texas. Additional files are still being reviewed.

Published by

Matthew Saltzman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Clemson University. President, the COIN-OR Foundation, Inc. Director for Redistricting, League of Women Voters of South Carolina

2 thoughts on “North Carolina Is an Endless Source of Entertainment for Redistricting Mavens”

  1. Am I correct that S.C. Constitution does not have a clause about “free & fair elections” so where does that leave us with regard to a state constitutional remedy for gerrymandering?

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    1. The South Carolina constitution does have language like that and we could pursue a judicial remedy if necessary, but it’s not clear whether the outcome would be favorable. The League believes that a legislative solution is a better option to pursue first. See the November 20 post in this blog for a bit more.

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