Staff Writer Jax Gay
A North Carolina federal court on Tuesday struck down the state’s GOP-drawn congressional map, saying the districts result in partisan gerrymandering, according to multiple reports.
In a nearly 200-page opinion, the three-judge panel ruled that state Republicans drew excessively partisan districts when previously ordered to redraw the state’s congressional map.
“Having concluded that the 2016 Plan violates the Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution, we now must determine the appropriate remedy,” the court wrote in its opinion.
The court ordered the state to ensure that no further elections are conducted under the 2016 map and to redraw the map before the 2018 midterm elections.
“Every American deserves representation in Washington, but the gerrymandered map struck down by the court today robbed much of the state of a representative voice in the nation’s capital,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, one of the groups that first brought the challenge, said in a statement.
“Today’s decision is a victory for democracy and a victory for North Carolinians who were carved out of any real choice in their elected representatives in Washington. Partisan gerrymanders are quite simply undemocratic and that is why Common Cause has fought them in the courts whether the lines were drawn by Republicans in North Carolina or Democrats in Maryland.”
The Charlotte Observer reported that during the 2016 special legislative session, when the maps were adopted, a GOP state lawmaker said they would give Republicans a majority.
“I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats,” Rep. David Lewis (R) reportedly said at the time.
The state has previously had its districts struck down by court order.
In May, the Supreme Court ruled the state illegally packed black voters into two congressional districts by using race as the predominant factor in drawing the districts without a compelling reason.
And in July, three federal judges ordered North Carolina’s state legislature to draw new General Assembly districts. That order impacted 28 of the state’s 170 General Assembly districts, which the court said discriminated against African-American voters.