Common Cause Files Suit Challenging Partisan Gerrymander in NC
- David Vance
Case Shapes Up as Legal Landmark
Today, Common Cause filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina challenging the blatantly political 2016 gerrymander of the state’s congressional districts by the state’s legislature.
The constitutional challenge, Common Cause v. Rucho, includes four separate counts against the plan as a whole and each of its 13 congressional districts. The counts cite the gerrymander as a violation of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and Article I, sections 2 and 4 of the Constitution relating to the manner in which Representatives are popularly elected.
When North Carolina’s 2011 congressional redistricting was ruled an unconstitutional racial gerrymander earlier this year, legislators publicly boasted that their goal was to replace it with a political gerrymander. In hearings they explained that the map drawers were to be instructed to create a map that would create ten Republican congressional districts and only three for Democrats.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized in recent years that partisan gerrymanders are incompatible with democratic principles and we believe the brazen partisan gerrymander in North Carolina has crossed the line and that the Court will rule it unconstitutional,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “Legislators should never be in the business of choosing their voters, because voters must choose their legislators in a democracy. This gerrymander has robbed hundreds of thousands of North Carolina Democrats and Republicans of their ability to elect the candidates of their choice to represent their interests in Washington.”
“At Common Cause North Carolina we’re working with Republicans and Democrats to build support to promote commonsense solutions and end every form of gerrymandering,” said Bob Phillips, Executive Director of Common Cause North Carolina. “We work with and learn lessons from our colleagues in 35 Common Cause office, including Maryland, currently working against Democrats who gerrymandered that state because we know it doesn’t matter which party is in power, gerrymandering is all about power for politicians, not people.”
The current congressional map is all but certain to result in a 10-3 majority for Republicans, despite the fact that in North Carolina at the time the map was enacted, there were 2,634,903 registered Democrats, 1,976,873 registered Republicans, and 1,844,264 unaffiliated registered voters.
Common Cause is joined in the litigation by the North Carolina Democratic Party and registered Democratic voters in each of the 13 gerrymandered districts. Plaintiffs are represented by Emmet J. Bondurant, Jason J. Carter, and Benjamin W. Thorpe of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP, Gregory L. Diskant and Susan Millenky of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP and Edwin M. Speas, Jr. and Caroline P. Mackie of Poyner Spruill LLP,
To read the full filing go to: www.commoncause.org/v-rucho