Trial challenging NC partisan gerrymandering concludes

The fate of Common Cause v. Rucho, a potentially landmark lawsuit against partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, now rests with a three-judge panel.

During a four-day trial at a federal courthouse in Greensboro, attorneys for the good-government group Common Cause argued that the NC legislature violated the constitutional rights of voters by drawing congressional districts with the express aim of benefiting Republicans at the expense of other parties.

In 2016, a federal court ruled that the Republican-controlled state legislature had unconstitutionally gerrymandered two of the state’s 13 congressional districts along racial lines. GOP leaders responded by replacing their illegal racial gerrymander with an overt partisan gerrymander that they openly declared would be drawn to virtually guarantee victory for Republican candidates in 10 of 13 districts.

That blatant partisan gerrymander prompted the lawsuit from Common Cause and led to this week’s trial.

“The issue here is really saving democracy,” said Emmet Bondurant, an attorney representing Common Cause in its lawsuit. “The only remedy is with the courts, and the remedy lies within the Constitution. [Gerrymandering] is unconstitutional, it should be stopped, and it should be stopped now.”

A decision in Common Cause v. Rucho may come before the end of the year.

A similar lawsuit out of Wisconsin challenging partisan gerrymandering was heard this month by the U.S. Supreme Court. These cases could be key to finally ending gerrymandering of all kinds in North Carolina and across the nation.