This week's Supreme Court ruling is a big win against racial gerrymandering. Next up: ending partisan gerrymandering.

By Bryan Warner
Posted: May 23, 2017
"Partisan gerrymandering has been the last refuge of politicians who want to manipulate voting maps at the expense of fair elections – but that could soon end."

RALEIGH – The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled that North Carolina lawmakers unconstitutionally gerrymandered two of the state's congressional districts along racial lines in 2011.

The decision is a huge victory in the fight to end racial gerrymandering in the Tar Heel State and across the nation, and it could very likely mean the high court will also rule against the state's racially gerrymandered legislative districts.

However, the immediate impact of the ruling on North Carolina's current congressional maps may be limited – at least for the time being. That's because the legislature already redrew the unconstitutional congressional districts from 2011 when a federal court ordered them to do so in February of 2016. Yesterday, the Supreme Court affirmed that lower court decision.

In response to that federal court decision last year, GOP lawmakers led by Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) crafted new congressional districts that they claimed would not consider race at all. Instead, legislative leaders openly boasted they would gerrymander purely along partisan lines to unfairly give Republicans maximum advantage, as Lewis is shown doing in the video below.

Lewis and his fellow Republican lawmakers were so bold in declaring their partisan gerrymandering scheme because while various court rulings have made it clear that racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional, the US Supreme Court has not yet made a decisive ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering.

In short: partisan gerrymandering has been seen as the last refuge of politicians who want to manipulate voting maps at the expense of fair and competitive elections. But that could soon end.

While lawmakers said they ignored race in redrawing the state's congressional districts and focused solely on party affiliation, the result is the same: divided communities and rigged elections that continue to deny North Carolina voters of their constitutional right to have a voice in choosing their representatives. That's why challenging partisan gerrymandering is so important now.

And that's where Common Cause v. Rucho comes in. In August, we filed suit against the NC legislature's partisan gerrymandering of the state's new congressional districts. That potentially landmark trial begins June 26 at a federal courthouse in Greensboro and might be the key to stopping partisan gerrymandering once and for all.

As Monday's welcome Supreme Court decision and pending court challenges could signal, ending gerrymandering of all kinds may finally be on the horizon.

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