A federal three-judge panel threw out North Carolina’s Congressional Districts 1 and 12 as racial gerrymanders today and gave the General Assembly until February 19 to redraw new maps.
Writing for the court in a decision handed down late this afternoon, Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory said:
After careful consideration of all evidence presented during a three-day bench trial, the parties’ findings of fact and conclusions of law, the parties’ arguments, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the plaintiffs have shown that race predominated in both CD 1 and CD 12 and that the defendants have failed to establish that its race-based redistricting satisfies strict scrutiny. Accordingly, the Court holds that the general assembly’s 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan is unconstitutional as violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Having found that the 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan violates the Equal Protection Clause, the Court will require that new congressional districts be drawn forthwith to remedy the unconstitutional districts.
U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. agreed with Gregory, while Judge William L. Osteen, Jr. dissented in part.
The court’s decision conflicts with decisions by the state Supreme Court in Dickson v. Rucho, which has twice upheld the 2011 legislative and congressional maps — most recently after a remand for further review by the U.S. Supreme Court. (For more on how the redistricting battles are playing out here and elsewhere, read here.)
And its order requiring a do-over by Feb. 19 disrupts the current election calendar heading into the March 15 primary elections.
Read the decision here.