A big month in the fight to end gerrymandering

This October is shaping up to be a pivotal month in the effort to finally end gerrymandering in North Carolina and across the nation.

Last week, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case coming out of Wisconsin that challenges partisan gerrymandering.

And a week from today, the case of Common Cause v. Rucho challenging partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina will go to trial at a federal courthouse in Greensboro.

Both of these lawsuits could send shockwaves throughout the nation’s political landscape by reining in extreme partisan gerrymandering.

A quick primer on gerrymandering:

In North Carolina, the state legislature has the power to draw legislative and congressional districts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the partisan politicians that control the legislature draw these districts to unfairly advantage their own party, and disadvantage the opposing party. This manipulation of voting maps is known as gerrymandering, and it has been an enduring scourge in our country for over 200 years.

Early last year, a federal court ruled that the Republican-controlled NC legislature had unconstitutionally gerrymandered two of the state’s 13 congressional districts along racial lines and ordered them to be redrawn.

Republican legislative leaders responded by saying they would craft a new congressional map by ignoring race entirely, and instead draw a blatant partisan gerrymander, as Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) frankly admits in the video below.

And just as Rep. Lewis predicted, Republicans won a 10-3 advantage in the state’s congressional elections last year as a result of the legislature’s shameless partisan gerrymandering.

Why were Republican leaders so bold in admitting their partisan gerrymander after having just been swatted down by the court for racially gerrymandering?

The reason is that while the courts have been clear about the unconstitutionality of racial gerrymandering, the US Supreme Court has not yet issued a decisive ruling declaring partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional.

In short: partisan gerrymandering has been the last refuge of politicians looking to shield themselves from accountability while depriving voters of a choice and voice at the ballot box.

That’s why these cases from Wisconsin and North Carolina challenging partisan gerrymandering are so crucial in the effort to ensure our voting maps are drawn free from political manipulation. And it’s why this October could prove to be the beginning of the end for gerrymandering.


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