Raleigh is still buzzing about the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold a lower court’s ruling and affirm that the racially gerrymandered General Assembly districts drawn by Republican legislative leaders violated the Constitution.
The court did not agree with the lower court ruling that the state should hold special legislative elections in 2017 under new districts, but that is still possibility. The remedy to address the unconstitutional districts will be decided by a lower court.
Not long after the news of the ruling broke, NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse tweeted that “Supreme Court Issues Brutal Takedown of 4th Circuit Call for Special Elections.”
Two key Republican legislators involved in redistricting issues, Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise, issued an equally bewildering statement.
We are encouraged the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the lower court’s politically motivated attempt to force a special legislative election in 2017 and its efforts to ‘suspend provisions of the North Carolina Constitution,’ ignore voters’ constitutional right to elect representatives to two-year terms, and effectively nullify their votes from 2016.
They are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court with a Republican majority unanimously decided that they violated the constitution by illegally using race to draw legislative districts? That’s something to proud of?
The big question now is what the courts will do to address the illegal gerrymandering, decide that voters have been represented long enough by lawmakers elected in unconstitutional districts and order a special election in 2017 or wait until 2018 and allow more laws to be made by legislators elected in illegal districts?
Perhaps the courts should follow the advice of GOP lawyer Thomas Farr. Farr argued in December that the Supreme Court should overrule the lower court ruling that called for 2017 elections.
But 15 years ago he was on the other side, urging the state Supreme Court to dramatically change the election schedule for the General Assembly because he said—as the Southern Coalition for Social Justice points out—“it was paramount to correct the irreparable harm that flowed to plaintiffs in that case from being in districts that violated the state constitution.”
Correcting the irreparable harm was paramount then and it is paramount now. And that would be something to celebrate.