Republicans in North Carolina are trying a new ploy to save their illegal partisan gerrymander for one more election cycle.
Last month, progressives won another seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, giving them a 5-2 majority. A week later, voting rights advocates sued over the state’s gerrymandered congressional districts, which the lawsuit argued violated the state constitution. The gerrymander was expected to be thrown out by the state court.
But now, Slate reports that the North Carolina GOP is attempting to remove the case to federal court, which has no authority to hear the case since it involves the state constitution.
“This patently frivolous endeavor is not actual lawyering; it is a bald faced effort to run down the clock and prevent the North Carolina Supreme Court from ruling in time for the 2020 election,” wrote Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern. “In effect, Republicans are trying to exploit the federal courts to preserve their own illicit gerrymander for as long as humanly possible.”
The current map was redrawn in 2016 and 2017 after the Supreme Court ruled that the congressional and legislative maps were an illegal racial gerrymander.
The North Carolina GOP had hired partisan map-maker Tom Hofeller, who admitted he drew the previous unconstitutional map “to ensure Republican majorities in the House and Senate.”
It’s unclear whether the ploy will work to delay changes beyond the 2020 election cycle but the map is expected to be thrown out by the state Supreme Court when it does hear the case.
GOP argument is ‘outlandish’:
“The coup de grâce, though, is the General Assembly’s assertion that a new map would infringe upon the Voting Rights Act,” Stern wrote. “In short, GOP attorneys suggest that they drew the current map to comply with the VRA by preserving the power of minority votes, and that a new map would dilute that power. A strange argument on its own terms—but an outlandish one given that the General Assembly already told a federal court that it did not draw the current map to comply with the VRA. Seriously: In a 2017 filing, Republican attorneys declared that the Legislature did not consider race in drawing a new map because it ‘did not conclude that the Voting Rights Act obligated it’ to. Were these lawyers lying in 2017? Are they lying today?”
Dems won 48% of the vote, only 25% of seats in NC:
During the midterms, Democrats in North Carolina won 48.3 percent of the vote in the state’s 13 Congressional races but only won three of the elections. One election is still being investigated for fraud.
“That only hints at the depth and ferocity of the battles over gerrymandering and voting regulations in North Carolina, where a Republican takeover of the General Assembly in 2010 set off a barrage of conservative legislation and rule changes that are still being fought in the courts,” Maggie Astor and K.K. Rebecca Lai wrote in The New York Times. “In this, North Carolina is one conspicuous example of a critical story line in this year’s elections: the degree to which gerrymandering has created firewalls in key states that even a wave election may not be able to breach.”
It’s even worse in the state House, where “of the 57 counties where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, only 17 have a Democratic representative in Congress.”