RALEIGH – Last month, a narrow majority of the U.S. Supreme Court declined to strike down extreme partisan gerrymandering of North Carolina’s congressional districts in the case of Rucho v. Common Cause. While the decision was disappointing to supporters of fair elections, Chief Justice John Roberts in his ruling pointed to state courts as an appropriate avenue to seek relief from gerrymandering.
A week from today – on Monday, July 15 – the case of Common Cause v. Lewis will go to trial in state court, challenging partisan gerrymandering of NC legislative districts as a violation of the North Carolina Constitution. A victory in that case could result in new, fairly drawn NC House and NC Senate districts for the 2020 election, and make clear that partisan gerrymandering of North Carolina’s voting maps is unacceptable.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Rep. David Lewis, who has overseen the drawing of North Carolina’s congressional and legislative districts, suggested he would not support redistricting reform legislation unless Common Cause NC dropped its state court case against partisan gerrymandering.
The following is a statement from Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC:
“If Republican legislative leaders had enacted real redistricting reform – like they repeatedly called for and sponsored when Democrats were in power – litigation would never have been necessary. Instead, they have blocked reform and engaged in blatant partisan gerrymandering of our state’s voting districts.
If Rep. Lewis is sincere about pursuing redistricting reform, he can start with the 2009 ‘Horton Independent Redistricting Commission’ bill, which he, along with now Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, sponsored at the time. That bill called for adoption of a state constitutional amendment creating an independent citizens commission to draw North Carolina’s legislative and congressional districts free from partisan politics, with full transparency and robust public input. That was their proposal, which we supported.
So, we call upon Rep. Lewis and his fellow Republican legislative leaders to enact a true citizens redistricting commission now, and only after passing into law a gold-standard model of reform would we consider his request.”
Common Cause NC is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. The organization works to create open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.