Friday’s big news…. an order written by Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Roger Gregory, part of a US appeals court panel, states that North Carolina Congressional Districts were racially gerrymandered during the 2011 redistricting and must be redrawn within two weeks (by February 19th).
Even though North Carolina primaries are scheduled for March 15th, this order bars elections in the 1st and 12th districts, both majority black districts,….. until the new maps are approved.
The timing of this ‘decree’ calling the 2011 redistricting plan unconstitutional is unfortunate and well timed by the plaintiffs for maximum impact.
District 1 is represented by G.K. Butterfield, while the 12th Distict is represented by Alma Adams, both of whom are black. Historically, even prior to redistricting, blacks had no problem getting elected in either district. But the 2011 redistricting added minority voters to both Districts.
The 1st Congressional District weaves through 24 counties and takes in 5 complete counties. The dimensions for the 12th District?… 120 miles long and 20 miles at it’s widest point.
Three plaintiffs filed suit in 2013 in an effort to invalidate the newly drawn districts, the premise being Republicans were being handed an advantage in adjacent Districts through the redistricting process. Read the 100 page decision by the appellate court HERE.
A Republican controlled legislature drew the lines in 2011. The plaintiffs claim race was a motivating factor as to where those boundary lines fell. At the center of this controversy are State Senator Bob Rucho and House member David Lewis, both of whom had strong influence in how these lines were drawn and helped design the maps. You can view district maps at the NC General Assembly site HERE.
The immediate impact of this decision could mean:
- Delay of the primary
- Voter disenfranchisement/confusion
- Absentee ballots already cast could be nullified
- Additional lawsuits filed
- If the NC General Assembly is called back into session it will be at the tax payer’s expense
Most disturbing of all is the fact that the Federal government is telling the State of North Carolina how to run its elections.
In 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County v. Holder in favor of the plaintiff which reversed Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. A case paralleling the Shelby case was Nix v. Holder seeking reversal of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The reversal of Section 4 nullifies Section 5. However, because Shelby was not decided in 2011 this Appellate Court has decided to retroactively rule on this redistricting boondoggle.
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