Court Rehears Fair Maps

NC Supreme Court Re-Hears Harper v. Hall

Just three months ago, the NC Supreme Court confirmed and finalized new limits on extreme partisan gerrymandering. This past week the same Court—now under a 5-2 Republican majority—heard arguments on whether to take the limits off that abuse of democracy after all.

“A blanket of partisanship hung over Tuesday’s proceedings, as Republicans asked the majority-Republican court to reverse rulings issued late last year when Democratic members made up a majority,” described reporter Lynn Bonner in NC Policy Watch. “What has happened over the course of the last 88 days since we issued our opinion in this case that would mandate and compel a different result?” Associate Justice Mike Morgan, a Democrat, asked Republican lawyer Phil Strach. 

A new ruling by the politically revamped Court for the Republican legislators could remove the last controls which now prevent those legislators from drawing district maps that effectively lock in their partisan legislative majorities in our state, even in an election where a strong majority of voters overall favor the other party. While such attempts have historically been made by whichever party then controlled the legislative majority, the new precision of computer-assisted mapping has made the district lines increasingly convoluted and unrepresentative.

“Our belief throughout this process is that every voter has the right to cast a ballot for the environment in free and fair elections and have their voice heard,” said NCLCV Executive Director Carrie Clark. “The North Carolina Supreme Court originally ruled that the legislature had violated our state constitution and that the gerrymanders must be replaced. We don’t believe anything in our state constitution has changed and hope the current Supreme Court doesn’t take an unprecedented step of overturning its prior decision. Our constitution and laws spell out judicial oversight of redistricting, which ensures free and fair elections. Ultimately, this is how lawmakers are held accountable and how our organization stands up for clean air and water for the people of North Carolina.”

A new Court decision in the re-argued case could be issued at any time.

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