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. It's a huge win in the fight to end racial gerrymandering in the Tar Heel State and across the nation.
The high court decision affirms a lower court ruling in 2016 that ordered the districts to be redrawn. In response to that decision last year, state lawmakers led by Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) redrew North Carolina's congressional maps. When crafting the new districts, lawmakers claimed they 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 clearly shown doing in the video below.
Lewis and his fellow Republican lawmakers were likely so bold in openly declaring their partisan gerrymandering plan 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 is the last refuge of politicians who want to manipulate voting maps at the expense of fair and competitive elections.
While lawmakers said they ignored race in redrawing the state's congressional districts and focused on party affiliation, the result was the same: 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 scheme. That potentially landmark trial begins June 26 in Greensboro and could be the key to stopping partisan gerrymandering once and for all.
As Monday's welcome Supreme Court decision and pending court challenges could signal, the end of gerrymandering may finally be on the horizon.