The city of Greensboro and six residents filed a lawsuit in federal court in Greensboro yesterday to block the controversial redistricting plan recently enacted by the General Assembly, which they say denies residents the right to change their form of government in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution.
“If permitted to take effect, the Greensboro Act would destroy municipal government crafted and controlled by the citizens of Greensboro and replace it with a City Council founded upon unconstitutional voting districts and expressly limited in its powers of self-government,” they alleged in their complaint.
House Bill 263, which passed despite widespread opposition in the House and only after backroom arm-twisting, dramatically changes the city council’s district boundaries.
Here’s Greensboro News & Record columnist Susan Ladd on the passage and impact of the new plan:
The bill, which started as Senate Bill 36, radically restructured the city council with no public input or prompting. It eliminated at-large representation, took away the mayor’s vote, redrew districts to separate neighborhoods and put sitting representatives in the same district.
With SB 36 blocked in the House by the Elections Committee, Wade dumped the provisions of her original bill into HB 263, a redistricting bill for the city of Trinity that had passed the House. An initial vote by the House to concur on the expanded bill was rejected soundly, 73-35, which sent it to a joint House-Senate committee stacked with Wade’s supporters.
What emerged two days later was even worse. It divided the city into eight districts that would ensure that three of the six sitting council members — including two of the four black representatives — will lose their seats because they will be facing each other in the same district.
This is particularly rich in irony when you recall that Wade claimed her original bill would increase minority representation.
Now in the same district are Democrats Yvonne Johnson and Jamal Fox, Sharon Hightower and Justin Outling, and Mike Barber and Nancy Hoffmann. Democrat Marikay Abuzuaiter is now in a heavily Republican district.
The only council member left untouched is Tony Wilkins, the council’s only Republican, who said he couldn’t support the bill without a voters referendum, then went to Raleigh to speak in favor of it.
The city and residents challenging the plan have asked the court to temporarily block enforcement of the new plan while their challenge is pending in court and at least through the November 2015 municipal elections.
Read the full complaint here.