Gerrymander Gazette: End of the Year is Near Edition

Welcome to the last Gerrymander Gazette of the year! Let’s see where things stand on the redistricting front as we prepare for (hopefully) a little rest and the start of 2023.

  • Check out our own Kathay Feng on MSNBC discussing what’s at stake in Moore v. Harper, an attack on checks and balances in which legislators are seeking to strip state courts of any power to stop politicians from manipulating congressional maps. See just one example from Colorado of how this case could impact important state reforms across the country.
  • The North Carolina Supreme Court struck down North Carolina Senate districts after ruling that the legislature’s remedial districts again violated the state’s prohibition against partisan gerrymandering. The court also affirmed the lower court’s decision to strike down the legislature’s interim congressional map and upheld the North Carolina House map.
  • And in even more happy North Carolina news, Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed Allison Riggs to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. As the co-executive director of Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Riggs has represented Common Cause and many others in voting and civil rights litigation, including our successful challenge to North Carolina’s congressional map at the heart of Moore v. Harper.
  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is pushing legislation to make it harder for Ohioans to use the ballot initiative process to stop gerrymandering in the state. The Columbus Dispatch weighs in against this effort.
  • In New Mexico, state Rep. Natalie Figueroa has proposed a bill to create a new redistricting commission that would significantly reduce the legislature’s influence over the process. Despite maps drawn by a citizen advisory redistricting commission with input from the public, the legislature focused most of their energy this cycle on protecting incumbents.
  • Plaintiffs arguing that Jacksonville, Florida’s city council map illegally discriminated against the city’s Black residents prevailed when a federal district court ruled against the city. The court selected one of the plaintiffs’ remedial maps to replace the illegal map.
  • Washington’s politician-appointed redistricting commission settled a lawsuit by agreeing to pay $40,000 to a plaintiff who accused the commission of withholding and destroying text messages in violation of the state’s Public Records Act.
  • Retiring Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Conner describes why she didn’t hold the Ohio Redistricting Commission in contempt of court and discusses her next act: supporting an effort to amend the Ohio Constitution to create an independent citizens redistricting commission in the state.
  • Montana’s redistricting commission will hold a public hearing this week on state legislative maps. Democrats and Republicans on the politician-appointed commission have disagreed about splitting different cities between districts.

I hope all of you have an amazing and relaxing holiday break!