GOP maps pass Judicial Test; High Court Appeal Expected
By Cash Michaels
A three-judge panel consisting of two Republican Superior Court judges and one Democrat Superior Court judge ruled unanimously January 11th that the latest legislative and congressional North Carolina redistricting voting maps drawn by Republican legislative leaders are constitutional and can be used in the upcoming 2022 primaries and midterm elections in the fall, even though they give the GOP a definite edge.
“I am disappointed by the three-judge panel’s decision to uphold the partisan gerrymandered maps,” said NC Democratic Party Chairwoman Bobbie Richardson.” The evidence presented demonstrates that Republicans lied to their colleagues when they promised a fair and transparent redistricting process. They cheated by using secret maps and closed-door strategy sessions, then destroyed the maps they used. They are trying to steal seats through illegal partisan gerrymandering and are choosing to proceed with costly litigation that hardworking taxpayers will pay for.
At press time Tuesday, an appeal straight to the NC Supreme Court was expected by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and North Carolina League of Conservation, two of the plaintiffs in the case.
Democrats outnumber Republicans on the state Supreme Court, 4-3.
The maps have been criticized as being too partisan and drawn to dilute Black voting strength. It had also been determined that the Republican lawmaker who redrew the House districts did so with the aid of maps the had been drawn by someone else in a back room, which was contrary to the GOP claim that the map drawing process was completely transparent. When asked to produce the additional maps, the lawmaker said they had either been thrown away or taken off his phone.
Republicans countered that they did nothing wrong, followed guidance not to use racial data, and were as open as possible in what they produced.
Candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries had been delayed by the NC High Court to May, to expedite judicial review of the new maps and allow for time to redraw them if necessary.
Various Democratic leaders, including Gov. Roy Cooper, complained that if approved, the new GOP maps would produce eleven Republican congresspeople out of fourteen congressional districts., as well as very few competitive legislative voting districts in the state House and Senate.
First District Congressman G. K. Butterfield, a Democrat, has already announced that he will not run for re-election because his district was changed to the extent where he could not win.
During the course of the trial experts were brought in to testify that the maps drawn by Republicans were not fair and could not produce fair results.
“We remain confident that our conclusive evidence of partisan bias, obfuscation, and attacks on Black representation, from expert testimony to the mapmakers’ own admissions, will convince the state’s highest court to protect voters from nefarious efforts to entrench partisan power at the expense of free elections and fair representation,” said Hilary Harris Klein, the Southern Coalition’s senior counsel for voting rights.
Voting districts are redrawn every ten years to account for how much state’s population expands or shrinks in or to produce proportional representation in the NC General Assembly and Congress.