Supreme Court Sends N.C. Partisan Gerrymandering Case, Rucho v. Common Cause, Back to Lower Court

The Rucho v. Common Cause organizational plaintiffs include Common Cause and the North Carolina Democratic Party. Both organizations have members in every congressional district in North Carolina. Rucho v. Common Cause also has individual plaintiffs, including  at least one voter from each of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts.

The District Court accepted this evidence of standing and concluded that the plaintiffs had proved their claims of district-specific packing and cracking. See, e.g., App-8-9 (describing district-specific packing and cracking of predecessor 2011 Plan, which the 2016 Plan sought to preserve to the greatest extent possible); App-41 (“[T]he 2016 Plan diluted the votes of those Plaintiffs who supported non-Republican candidates and reside in the ten [specific] districts that the General Assembly drew to elect Republican candidates.” (emphasis added)); App-159-60 (describing “cracking” of specific “naturally occurring Democratic clusters” to “make it easier for Republican candidates to prevail”). Appellants did not challenge these factual findings in this Court.

“Our legal fight against partisan gerrymandering in Rucho v. Common Cause continues, and we are confident the court will ultimately affirm our landmark victory in this case,” said Bob Phillips. Executive director of Common Cause North Carolina. “We must end gerrymandering to ensure all voters have a voice in our democracy.”

“Justice delayed is justice denied, however, we are confident that we have standing to be able to make our way back to the Supreme Court so that the Justices may draw a clear line against partisan political gerrymanders that leave too many Americans without fair representation,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “In a democracy, voters should be choosing politicians, and we hope the Supreme Court will make clear with this case that politicians should not be choosing their voters for partisan political gain. The Court can still set a clear standard that will restore the vote to millions of Americans who have essentially been disenfranchised by gerrymanders perpetrated by Democratic and Republican legislatures.”

“The Court’s delay in reviewing Rucho v. Common Cause, challenging partisan gerrymandering only adds fuel to Common Cause and its million members to mobilize to enact redistricting reforms at the state and local level,” said Kathay Feng, Common Cause national redistricting director. “In 2015, the Court affirmed the people’s right to create redistricting commissions and other reforms in Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. We are now seizing that opportunity with voter-passed reforms in Ohio and soon in Michigan, Colorado, Utah, and Missouri when voters will cast ballots on their own redistricting reform measures.”

Common Cause challenged the drawing of each of North Carolina’s thirteen individual

congressional districts on the ground that each district is the result of an unconstitutional political gerrymander that violates the First Amendment (Count I), the Equal Protection Clause (Count III) of the Constitution, and exceeds the authority granted by Article 1, § 4 (Count IV) of the Constitution.

To learn more about Rucho v. Common Cause, click here.