Eyes on NC State Court After SCOTUS Gerrymandering Decision

RALEIGH, N.C. – The fight for fair congressional maps continues at the state level, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that it doesn’t have the authority to prohibit partisan gerrymandering.

One of the cases involved in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerns redistricting in 2016 by North Carolina Republican lawmakers. Bryan Warner, director of communications with Common Cause NC, said the high court’s decision is unfortunate, but the case has elevated public awareness of gerrymandering, and put the spotlight on state courts.

“On July 15, we have a separate case – Common Cause v. Lewis – going to trial in state court, challenging partisan gerrymandering of our legislative districts as a violation of the North Carolina Constitution,” Warner said. “That case may ultimately go before the North Carolina Supreme Court, which would have the final say there.”

The plaintiffs include North Carolina’s Democratic Party and a group of voters, arguing that gerrymandering violates several clauses in the state Constitution. Warner said a victory would mean new state House and Senate districts could potentially be drawn for the 2020 election.

Warner pointed out gerrymandering undercuts voter representation, particularly for districts that are predominantly African-American and Hispanic.

“When you have extreme partisan gerrymandering, you have a situation where the districts are drawn in such a way that elected officials or legislators are more worried about catering to the far extremes of their party. They’re more worried about facing a primary election challenge than they are about the General Election,” he said. “That means we really don’t have compromise.”

After completion of the 2020 U.S. Census, states will begin the process of redrawing their legislative districts.

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