Gerrymander Gazette: NC Court Strikes Down General Assembly Districts

BREAKING: North Carolina Court Strikes Down General Assembly Districts as Unconstitutional Partisan Gerrymander

A North Carolina trial court struck down the state’s General Assembly districts as an illegal partisan gerrymander that violates the North Carolina Constitution. The court held that the districts violate the following provisions:

  • Free elections clause; Article I, section 5
  • Freedom of assembly; Article I, section 12
  • Freedom of speech; Article I, section 14
  • Equal protection; Article I, section 19
In its decision, the trial court outlined the following next steps:
  • Current districts are unconstitutional and may not be used in the 2020 elections.
  • The General Assembly has until September 18, 2019 to redraw maps in a fully transparent process that must be done in public hearings with visible computer screens, and in which no edits or revisions may be done in private.
  • The order provides districting criteria, including prohibiting the use of partisan considerations and election data, a prohibition against using the unconstitutional districts as a starting point for the new maps, and adherence to the Voting Rights Act and other federal law.
  • The court will appoint a referee to assess the General Assembly’s remedial maps or to draw maps if the General Assembly fails to do so. The parties may provide names and qualifications by September 6, 2019.
Common Cause’s press statement is below:For immediate release
Sept. 3, 2019
Contact: Bryan Warner, Common Cause NC, at 919-599-7541 or bwarner@commoncause.orgLandmark victory: Court rules NC partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, orders new legislative maps drawn for the 2020 election

RALEIGH – A panel of three judges in the Wake County Superior Court ruled unanimously today that the NC General Assembly violated the North Carolina Constitution when it gerrymandered the state’s legislative districts for partisan gain. The court gave the legislature two weeks to draw new NC House and NC Senate districts, applying strict nonpartisan criteria and in full public view.

Statement from Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC:

“This is a historic victory for the people of North Carolina. The court has made clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state’s constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the court’s landmark decision, politicians in Raleigh will no longer be able to rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering.

What’s crucial now is ensuring that the legislature fully complies with the court’s order and draws new legislative districts in a timely fashion, with full transparency and robust public input, absolutely free from gerrymandering.”

Statement from Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause:

“A narrow majority on the United States Supreme Court turned their backs on the voters in North Carolina in June refusing to curb the blatant partisan gerrymander, but today the state’s own court stood up for the rights of those voters under the state constitution. This victory joins a growing list of victories in the fight to end gerrymandering nationwide. The battles do not end here though. We will watchdog this process to ensure that the legislature draws fair maps and the process is transparent. In other states the fight will go on in state courts, in legislatures, and through ballot initiatives to ensure every voter across this country has a voice at the polls. Common Cause will be relentless in continuing our fight to end partisan gerrymandering once and for all.”

See the ruling here. 
Learn more about the case of Common Cause v. Lewis here.

Common Cause NC is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy.


This newsletter has been produced by Common Cause and compiled by Dan Vicuna. Subscribe to the Gerrymander Gazette here. For more information or to pass along news, contact Dan Vicuna.

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