It’s redistricting deja vu all over again, but that’s what’s necessary to save voters’ constitutional rights from a gerrymandering General Assembly bent on keeping pro-polluter politicians in power instead of the people.
On Friday, civil rights groups filed a state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the legislature’s process to produce new state House and Senate district maps. The suit asks that both candidate filing and the 2022 primary be postponed so redistricting can be redone according to law.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) sued on behalf of the North Carolina NAACP, Common Cause, and four individual voters. The suit asserts the redistricting process failed to analyze the extent of racially polarized voting, as required by the Voting Rights Act. This failure left racial minorities unprotected from discriminatory districts, in violation of the equal protection clause of the state constitution.
The lawsuit also alleges legislators delayed the process to give impacted communities and potential candidates inadequate time to analyze districts and prepare viable campaigns.
“Once again, state redistricting leaders have failed North Carolinians by redrawing voting districts for political gain and depriving voters of color of their constitutional rights to fair political representation,” said Allison Riggs, SCSJ’s Co-Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Voting Rights.
“The North Carolina Constitution, as well as state and federal law, prohibit redistricting plans that disproportionately impact voters of color,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Tom Boer. “Today, we are filing a Complaint that asks the court to stop the legislature from applying redistricting criteria that, while facially rejecting considerations of race, will effectively allow redistricting efforts that disproportionately impact voters of color.”
We and multiple other environmental and voting rights groups encouraged citizen comments on the problems of the redistricting process, helping to prepare the factual record of the case.