A federal court yesterday ruled North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
The decision reaffirms what the court already found earlier this year in League of Women Voters v. Rucho and Common Cause v. Rucho and dangles the possibility of new maps before the November election.
Naturally, everyone from lawmakers to constitutional experts to parties in the cases weighed in after the 294-page opinion was released.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and University of Chicago Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos represent the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and 12 individual North Carolina plaintiffs.
“Once again, a bipartisan panel of judges agree that the legislature went too far in its efforts to gerrymander election districts in a way that discriminates against voters based on their political beliefs and predetermines the outcome of elections before a single vote is cast,”said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “Elections should have consequences. Unfortunately, every congressional election in North Carolina so far this decade has deprived the voters of the ability to hold elected officials accountable through the democratic process. The court recognized that such actions are unconstitutional. The people of North Carolina deserve better.”
Ruth Greenwood, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting at CLC, described the 2016 congressional map as one of the “most severely gerrymandered maps in modern American history.” She anticipated a quick turnaround for the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case up on appeal.
“Our clients in North Carolina are ready for a ruling from the Supreme Court that finally declares that voters, not lawmakers, come first,” she added.
Common Cause North Carolina Executive Director Bob Phillips, who has been fighting gerrymandering for years, said it was time for state lawmakers to do their part to pass redistricting reform.
“While we look forward to having our landmark case now go before the highest court in the land, it’s regrettable that North Carolina voters this November will be voting in congressional districts that have been found unconstitutional,” he said. “We the people deserve better.”
Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse was skeptical on social media that the courts would change the impending election.
I can’t foresee a situation where we do not have Congressional Elections as planned in 2018
— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) August 27, 2018
His Republican colleagues were fairly quiet on the social media front, but Democrats and political experts alike tweeted about the opinion. Here are a few of their reactions:
So. Then this happened. BREAKING: Divided Three Judge Court Holds North Carolina Congressional Redistricting an Unconstitutional Partisan Gerrymander, Considers New Districts for 2018 Elections #ncga #ncpol https://t.co/K9cSlgKzRV
— John Autry (@AutryJohn) August 27, 2018
I’ve now updated my post with full analysis, including the national implications for the 2018 control of the U.S. House, and how the key to whether we will see new districts likely rests with Justices Breyer and Kagan. https://t.co/2zYczN8waW
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) August 27, 2018
— Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (@jay_chaudhuri) August 27, 2018
Please read, RT my #ncpol statement (issued in my capacity as @NCDemParty Chairman) about today’s federal court’s decision against #NCGOP #ncga partisan gerrymandering of #NC Congressional districts:@nchousedems @NCSenateDems @TheDemocrats @CommonCauseNC @RaleighReporter pic.twitter.com/YGJiGOYPrC
— Wayne Goodwin (@WayneGoodwinNC) August 28, 2018
And then there’s this intense tweet storm from Michael Bitzer, a well-known political scientist and historian. He tweeted for hours about the opinion.
OK, so here we go…tweet storm forthcoming regarding the 300+ opinion that still holds NC partisan gerrymandering as illegal, and that this time, the plaintiff’s have met the Gill burden of having standing as being in a district that is in question: pic.twitter.com/K4IudL4xrX
— Michael Bitzer (@BowTiePolitics) August 27, 2018
Michael Li, redistricting and voting counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice, also live-tweeted (28 times to be exact) his thoughts on the lengthy opinion.
BREAKING: Federal court rules that plaintiffs in North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case have standing to pursue claims (with one exception) and affirms earlier ruling that congressional map is unconstitutional. https://t.co/kHGyAQUnds #fairmaps 1/
— Michael Li (@mcpli) August 27, 2018
Eric Holder, a former U.S. Attorney General and current chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, also took time to weigh in.
For the better part of a decade, Republicans have deprived the people of North Carolina the right to representation consistent with their beliefs and the opportunity to fairly choose their Representatives. This shameful era must finally end. Courts agree.
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) August 28, 2018