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NC gerrymandering opponents to Supreme Court: “Anything would be better than what we do now”

Common Cause NC executive director Bob Phillips at today’s press conference flanked by student activist Briona May (left) and State Rep. Robert Reives II (right)

As lawyers for gerrymandering reform represented them at the U.S. Supreme Court this morning in two cases out of North Carolina (click here to read Policy watch reporter Melissa Boughton’s highlights on Twitter), advocates with Common Cause North Carolina gathered with several state lawmakers outside of the Legislative Building in Raleigh to demand reform.

It’s time for the General Assembly to “hear the bills,” declared Common Cause NC executive director Bob Phillips in reference to a raft of redistricting reform proposals that have been introduced during the 2019 legislative session. Though Phillips allowed that none of the proposals is “perfect,” he also pointed out in reference to the current system of allowing state lawmakers to draw maps in order to maximize their partisan advantage, that “anything would be better than what we do now.”

Phillips was followed to the podium and echoed in his sentiments by a pair of Common Cause activists — college student  Briona May and businessman Dennis Burns as well as a foursome of state lawmakers: Rep. Robert Reives II (D-Chatham and Durham), Senators Kirk deViere (D- Cumberland), Harper Peterson (D-New Hanover) and Michael Garrett (D-Guilford). Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Buncombe) had been scheduled to attend, but sent last minute regrets.

In her remarks, May said is was “time to hold lawmakers accountable” for their obstruction of redistricting reform. Burns decried the current hyper-partisan state of the General Assembly and ascribed it to gerrymandering. Reives lamented the fact that people of both parties who happen to live in the wrong district feel that their voices don’t matter.

When asked to describe the ruling he hoped the Supreme Court would issue, Phillips was succinct and to the point. He said it was time for the Court to make clear that partisan gerrymandering must end and that any bodies drawing legislative maps must no longer be permitted to consider political data of any kind.

A ruling in the two North Carolina cases heard by the Court today — Common Cause v. Rucho and League of Women Voters v. Rucho is not expected until later this spring. Meanwhile, legislative leaders have yet to allow serious consideration of the gerrymandering reform bills currently pending in the General Assembly.

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