Common Cause is inviting the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve questions about the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering once and for all.
In papers filed late Tuesday, the nonpartisan watchdog group asked the high court to put Common Cause v. Rucho, its challenge to congressional districts drawn by the North Carolina legislature, on a judicial fast track.
If the justices agree, the case could be argued this spring and decided by the summer, along with redistricting challenges from Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas that already are on the court’s docket.
“The Supreme Court has the chance to once again ensure that every North Carolinian can vote and make their voice heard in Washington but it is essential that the Court act quickly,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. The districts drawn by the legislature “essentially disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians,” she charged.
Republican leaders who drew the districts have acknowledged that they set out to create a map that would lock in a 10-3 GOP majority in the state’s congressional delegation. Registered Democrats actually outnumber Republicans in the state, though GOP candidates for Congress have won slightly more than half the votes cast statewide in recent elections.
Lawyers for Common Cause and the NC League of Women Voters argue that any use of partisan considerations in drawing districts is unconstitutional; other pending cases urge the justices to set a standard for an acceptable level of partisan gerrymandering.
Though a three judge court that originally considered the case ruled unanimously that the districts violate the free speech rights of millions of North Carolinians, state officials have won a stay that will allow them to use those districts in the November 2018 election unless the Supreme Court intervenes.
Issues: Voting and Elections