Courts & the Law, News

Federal court invites feedback from partisan gerrymandering parties after Supreme Court remand

Parties to North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering case have until July 11 to weigh in at the federal level about how the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in a Wisconsin case affects the merits of theirs.

The directive was issued Wednesday by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, three days after the high court vacated its opinion and remanded the case back for further consideration in light of the decision in Gill v. Whitford.

The federal three-judge panel presiding over the North Carolina case — which is actually two cases, League of Women Voters v. Rucho and Common Cause v. Rucho — had struck down the state’s 2016 congressional map as an unconstitutional gerrymander.

The case was pending at the Supreme Court when Justices last week decided Gill, a partisan gerrymandering challenge out of Wisconsin. It was mostly dismissed for lack of standing but also partially sent back to the lower court for redress.

The District Court’s order about reevaluating the North Carolina case reiterated what they have to consider in light of Gill.

Gill stated, inter alia, that to establish standing to assert a partisan vote dilution claim under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a plaintiff voter must show that ‘the particular
composition of the voter’s own district . . . causes his vote — having been packed or cracked — to carry less weight than it would carry in another, hypothetical district,'” the document states.

It also instructed exactly what parties to the lawsuits should address in briefs to the court.

The parties are invited to submit briefing to this Court by 5:00 p.m. on July 11, 2018, addressing the following four issues:
1. What impact, if any, Gill has on this Court’s holdings that the 2016 Plan violates the First Amendment and Article I of the Constitution;
2. Whether the existing factual record is adequate to address whether Plaintiffs have standing to state a vote dilution claim under the Equal Protection Clause;
3. If a party believes additional factual development is required, what that factual development should entail; and
4. Assuming arguendo that no additional factual development is required, whether, under Gill, Plaintiffs have standing to assert a vote dilution claim under the Equal Protection Clause.

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