North Carolina: North Carolina’s Novel Anti-Partisan-Gerrymander Ruling | The Atlantic

Federal judges have yet again struck down North Carolina’s congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander, dealing Republicans a blow and throwing the state’s maps into chaos just months before a pivotal midterm election. A three-judge panel, including one circuit-court judge and two district-court judges, ruled Tuesday evening that the Old North State’s redistricting plan relied too heavily on partisan affiliation in drawing constituencies, violating citizens’ rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution. The decision is the first time a federal court has ever struck down a redistricting plan as a partisan gerrymander. The final word, however, will likely come from the Supreme Court, which is considering two partisan-gerrymandering cases.

When Republicans took over the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011, for the first time since 1870, they had the opportunity to redraw districts following the 2010 Census, and quickly set to drawing maps that would aid GOP candidates. In doing so, they relied in part on racial data—a practice that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled permissible when creating majority-minority districts. In North Carolina, as in many southern states, there is a strong correlation between African Americans and Democratic voters, and this effectively helped Republicans crowd Democratic voters into fewer districts.

The plan worked extremely well. In 2012, Republicans won just 49 percent of the statewide vote but snagged nine of 13 House seats. Two years later, with 54 percent of the vote, they won 10 of 13 seats. But a lawsuit against that plan argued that the Republican maps had actually been intended to dilute black votes, and a federal court struck the plan down in 2016. (The Supreme Court affirmed that decision last spring.)

Full Article: North Carolina’s Novel Anti-Partisan-Gerrymander Ruling – The Atlantic.

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