The three-judge Superior Court panel considering our lawsuit against the extreme partisan gerrymandered congressional and state legislative districts wrapped up hearings on Thursday, and is now weighing its ruling. Watch all four days of proceedings here.
Following closing arguments, our Executive Director Carrie Clark called our attorneys’ presentation “a powerful case for replacing the legislature’s gerrymandered maps with new maps that will guarantee every voter the equal freedom to choose their representatives in free elections. Our attorneys and expert witness proved indisputably that all three maps are intentionally extreme partisan gerrymanders that would prevent Democrats from winning a majority in either legislative chamber or the congressional delegation even if Democratic candidates win the statewide vote by 7 points. And they proved beyond a doubt that these extreme gerrymanders violate our state constitution‘s free elections, free speech, free assembly, and equal protection clauses. Legislators’ attorneys offered no mathematical or legal defense, and could only muster partisan rhetoric and conspiracy theory. We hope the courts will throw out these maps and order our proposed maps into effect so North Carolinians can meaningfully express their will at the ballot box, including their strong desire for protections from pollution and environmental injustice.”
Evidence from our expert witness Dr. Moon Duchin and others showed the maps are “extreme partisan outliers” designed to give Republicans majorities (often veto-proof majorities) in the state legislature, even in good Democratic years. They also proved the maps dilute Black voting power in districts across the state.
How did they do this? Despite proclaiming to have done all map drawing in public view, testimony revealed a bombshell. House Redistricting Chairman Destin Hall used “concept maps” drawn by his staff behind closed doors to guide the map drawing he did at the livestreamed computer terminals. Staff then either destroyed or lost those secret maps to hide the evidence from plaintiffs, judges, and the public.
Other plaintiffs in the three combined cases include the state NAACP, Common Cause, and multiple individual voters.
The panel is under state Supreme Court mandate to issue its ruling no later than this Tuesday, January 11. Parties will then have two days to file appeals, and the Supreme Court itself is expected to make a final decision in the case prior to resumption of the primary election process.
Partisan gerrymandering would be outlawed across the country if Congress passes the Freedom to Vote Act. Tell your senators to get to work!