Common Cause Court Brief Backs Post-Election Implementation of New Congressional Map, Calls for Special Master to Draw New Districts Post 2018 Election

Common Cause, joined by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, filed a brief in Common Cause v. Rucho today concluding that a new congressional map in North Carolina should be implemented after the 2018 elections. With 67 days to go before the 2018 general election and a primary already conducted, Common Cause argued that new districts would generate election administration challenges that would cause confusion and lower voter turnout. The trial court ruled on Monday that North Carolina’s congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and is determining the appropriate remedy. The North Carolina General Assembly is likely to appeal the court’s ruling striking down the map directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could hear the case in the next term.

In its brief Friday, Common Cause asked the court to assign a special master to create a new congressional map after the 2018 election.

“Unfortunately, the General Assembly’s decision to draw a biased and gerrymandered map in 2016 allowed them to run out the clock and force North Carolinians to vote in unconstitutional districts one more time,” said Bob Phillips, Common Cause North Carolina executive director. “Although justice will be delayed one more election cycle, we will keep up the fight for fair representation here in North Carolina and across the country when this case heads to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

On August 27, the three-judge federal district court panel again struck down North Carolina’s U.S. House map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in the consolidated case of Common Cause v. Rucho and League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Rucho. The court found violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments along with Article I, sections 2 and 4 of the Constitution. The trial judges previously struck down the districts in January, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded the decision to require the judges to assess standing to sue in light of Gill v. Whitford.

Common Cause was joined in the litigation by the North Carolina Democratic Party and 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, Jonah M. Knobler, Peter A. Nelson and Elena Steiger Reich of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, and Edwin M. Speas, Jr., Caroline P. Mackie, and Steve Epstein of Poyner Spruill LLP.

To read the brief, click here.