Commentary

NY Times columnist: NC court decision is another victory for gerrymandering

In case you missed it, be sure to check out New York Times columnist David Leonhardt’s morning essay in which he rightfully describes yesterday’s cop-out of a state superior court ruling in which a three-judge panel approved the latest GOP-drawn congressional map as another win for gerrymandering.

Here’s Leonhardt:

It’s an unfortunate ruling, because it rewards a political party for dragging its feet on gerrymandering: The more slowly a party responds to court orders, the more elections it can win.

Michael McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida, described the ruling as an “open invitation” to gerrymander again in the future. “Hey look! You can use an unconstitutional map for one or two election cycles!” McDonald tweeted. “There is no moral hazard for a legislature who gerrymanders.”

Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Elections wrote: “Justice delayed is justice denied when it comes to redistricting. Rulings like this one allow legislators to get away with illegal gerrymanders for an election or two simply because litigation takes so long & taxpayers pay the cost.”

Perhaps the clearest problem with the new map is its unnatural splitting of the Fayetteville area, in the south-central part of the state, to protect Republican incumbents, Wolf explained. Under the new map, a tied statewide popular vote would likely leave Republicans with eight of the state’s 13 seats, down from 10 of 13 under the old map.

Leonhardt ends the column on a semi-optimistic note by pointing out that the national fight against gerrymandering continues to build momentum, but his obvious bottom line assessment (and that of many other redistricting experts across the country) is that, having put themselves in a position to strike an important blow for democracy,  Judges Ridgeway, Hinton and Crosswhite blinked and instead issued a dreadful clunker of a ruling that guarantees yet another rigged congressional election in North Carolina next year.

Click here to read Leonhardt’s column.

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