North Carolina gerrymandering decision draws comments from KU professor

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Closer to home, the motion notes the candidate filing period is due to begin here in just about a month.

"We're enormously gratified on behalf of our clients and all voters in North Carolina that no one will have to endure another congressional election under an unconstitutional map", said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented some of the challengers.

Judge Jim Wynn of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, "We find that the General Assembly drew and enacted the 2016 plan with intent to subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican control of North Carolina's congressional delegation".

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The question is, has the test that those courts used done the job of proving partisan gerrymandering? The opinion is the first federal court ruling to strike down a congressional map as representing a partisan gerrymander. A Wisconsin case that was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court involved state legislative districts found to be partisan gerrymanders. In North Carolina three judges said it did.

The lengthy ruling is the third major court decision that declares North Carolina's Republicans have broken the law when carving up the state's electoral districts after the 2011 Census. The latest cases focus on a different issue: Whether it's OK to draw district lines to help - or hurt - political parties.

In 2011 Wisconsin Republicans completely controlled the redistricting process for the first time in four decades.

In the majority opinion, Judge James Wynn, who sits on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, said the state's General Assembly "enacted the plan with the intent of discriminating against voters who favored non-Republican candidates" and ordered a new map be drawn by 5 p.m. on January 24.

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The court cast aside the argument that districts should not consider politics, saying partisanship is part of the system.

Other states besides North Carolina and Wisconsin have been dealing with lawsuits against district lines.

The lawmakers, Wynn wrote, "do not argue - and have never argued - that the 2016 Plan's intentional disfavoring of supporters of non-Republican candidates advances any democratic, constitutional, or public interest".

Attorneys for Robert Rucho, chairman of the state's Senate Redistricting Committee for the 2016 Extra Session, and other state officials submitted a request for an emergency stay of the district court order, which ruled the maps constituted an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, to Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday afternoon.

News of the ruling brought quick applause from Democrats and swift criticism from Republicans.

If those Democratic voters choose to appeal the court's decision, the case would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hise and state Rep. David Lewis have led redistricting efforts in the legislature.

However, in a statement from State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), he says the lawsuit should be put to rest.

Indeed, a year after the redistricting, Republicans captured only a minority of the statewide vote - 48.6 percent - but, as they had privately predicted, they still won 60 of the 99 state legislative seats, while the Democrats, who had won a majority of the vote, captured a mere 39 seats. "The Republicans made this case relatively simple when they admitted in court that the congressional map was drawn for partisan political advantage". You'd think that Democrats should have won at least six of the state's 13 seats in the U.S. House. "But the current map is still created to produce a 10-3 Republican advantage among congressional districts, in a state that is equally divided politically", Price said in a statement in which he described the ruling as one with "national implications".

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