Federal court invalidates two NC congressional districts
Judges order state lawmakers to redraw the racially gerrymandered districts by Feb. 19
A federal court on Friday ruled that two of North Carolina's 13 congressional districts – the 1st and 12th – were unconstitutionally gerrymandered and ordered the state to redraw the districts by Feb. 19.
In his majority opinion, Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the two districts at hand violated the 14th Amendment because "race was the predominant consideration" in how they were drawn by state lawmakers.
The decision is the latest in a series of court cases over the past decades dealing with North Carolina's controversial redistricting process, which allows partisan politicians in the legislature to draw the state's congressional and legislative districts.
"Today's ruling once again shows the need for North Carolina to establish a nonpartisan system for drawing our state's voting maps," said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina.
Last year, a majority of NC House members co-sponsored House Bill 92, which would take the power of redistricting out of the hands of partisan lawmakers and give it to nonpartisan legislative staff. However, that bill has not been given a vote in the legislature.
At the same time, over 240 civic leaders across North Carolina have signed a petition calling on the legislature to pass redistricting reform. And both Gov. Pat McCrory and his possible 2016 gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, are on record opposing gerrymandering, as are former governors Jim Martin and Jim Hunt.
"For years, partisan gerrymandering has led to costly litigation and deprived North Carolina voters of having a real choice and a voice in our elections," Phillips said. "Fortunately, a growing number of citizens and leaders across the political spectrum agree that North Carolina should adopt an independent redistricting process."