As a key U.S. Supreme Court case on gerrymandering looms, North Carolina Republicans are pushing back against the criticism of their own political maps. Racially motivated gerrymandering is unconstitutional, and within the past two years North Carolina has had to redraw its U.S. House, N.C. House and N.C. Senate districts after all were found to have disenfranchised black voters. The three maps found unconstitutional were drawn in 2011 by Republican state legislators, shortly after they took control of the N.C. General Assembly that year. However, federal courts have long avoided deciding whether politically motivated gerrymandering is also unconstitutional. Democrats for years drew lines to help their party, and Republicans have done the same. Democratic Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte said that of the 4,300 written comments legislators received on the most recent round of redistricting, fewer than 1 percent were in favor.
But N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise, a Republican from Mitchell County who leads the Senate’s redistricting committee, said the input of fewer than 5,000 people in a state of 10 million is hardly representative of what people think. He also blamed the judges who ordered the lines to be redrawn, saying they should’ve given North Carolina more time.
“As you know, we were on a compressed deadline that was set by the court,” Hise said. “I regret the court-ordered timeline forced an abbreviated process that yielded only 4,300 comments out of roughly 10 million North Carolinians. While we appreciate those who took time to respond, most statisticians would probably not view that small sampling as a representation of public opinion for all of North Carolina.”