Another panel of judges is considering whether some electoral districts drawn by North Carolina Republicans four years ago and used in the past two elections are illegal because too many black residents were placed inside of them. Three federal judges held a three-day trial in Greensboro this past week that examined the legality of a pair of congressional districts that have consistently elected black Democrats for more than 20 years. They didn’t immediately rule. An ultimate favorable decision — likely after more appeals — for voters who sued could require the General Assembly redraw the 1st and 12th Congressional Districts that are being challenged, and likely force adjustments to adjoining districts.
At least four lawsuits have been filed challenging congressional or General Assembly boundaries, or both, drawn by GOP lawmakers in 2011 as discriminatory against minority voters, but the districts haven’t been struck down. The boundaries have helped Republicans expand their state House and Senate majorities and give them 10 of the 13 seats in the state’s congressional delegation. GOP lawmakers said the maps were fair and followed state and federal laws.
GOP lawmakers drew the 1st and 12th Districts with majority-black voting age populations — 53 percent in the 1st and 51 percent in the 12th. In the previous round of redistricting in the 2000s, the black voting-age population ranged from 44 to 48 percent.
Attorneys for the voters argue the district boundaries should be struck down because there was no legitimate reason to increase the percentages when the districts had allowed black residents to elect candidates of their choice.