North Carolina Republicans quickly positioned themselves Monday to approve new General Assembly districts before a court-ordered deadline later this week, even as Democrats argued the new maps display the same unlawful racial bias that judges found in the earlier ones. The full House voted 65-47 for district lines that appear to help the GOP retain its strong majority in the chamber. The Senate followed late Monday with a 31-15 vote giving final approval to its remap, which also should help keep Republicans firmly in charge there, too. The Senate already had debated extensively on its plan before giving initial approval last Friday. The votes were largely along party lines favoring Repubilcans. The House still must consider the Senate map this week and the Senate must vote for the House districts, but these actions are likely perfunctory. Redistricting plans aren’t subject to the veto stamp of Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
But these maps will be scrutinized by a three-judge panel that set a Friday deadline for legislators to approve new lines that remedy the “constitutional deficiencies” with 28 House and Senate districts initially drawn in 2011. The 2011 maps helped Republicans expand their majorities, enabling them to pass legislation aligned with their right-leaning views on taxes, education and social issues.
The judges ruled in August 2016 that those districts were illegal racial gerrymanders. Nearly all of the challenged districts had majority black voting-age populations.