A lawsuit over their sham redistricting process didn’t deter anti-environmental legislators from passing yet another set of gerrymandered congressional and state legislative maps last week. Late Friday, the day after the final votes, democracy advocates sued legislators over the maps themselves.
North Carolina’s environmental community is united in blasting these maps as a gift to big corporate polluters. In a joint statement Thursday, we and the state chapter of the Sierra Club said, “Without a healthy democracy, North Carolinians can’t have a healthy environment. Every voter should have an equal opportunity to elect leaders who reflect their values and who will protect their rights to clean air, clean water, and clean energy. But with these maps, legislators made deliberate choices to pre-ordain election outcomes that favor polluters over people and that disenfranchise millions of North Carolinians.
“This is particularly true for voters of color, who are hurt first and worst by pollution, climate change, and voter suppression measures like this. Historically, redistricting has been used to exclude communities of color from representation in local, state, and congressional decision-making. Now, our legislature is continuing that legacy. We hope the courts will bring these voters justice and order these maps to be redrawn from scratch.
“Going forward, redistricting for Congress and the General Assembly should always be done by an independent, nonpartisan citizen commission. Politicians should have no power to pick their voters; voters should have the power to pick their leaders.”
The maps passed along party lines, but Gov. Cooper legally has no power to veto them. So it’s up to state courts in the two aforementioned lawsuits, and more legal challenges may be coming. Candidate filing begins December 6 for the March 8 primary. With time ticking, courts may delay both of those to allow more time to litigate maps. Legislators could have done that themselves, but leadership refused to slow down a rushed process they could have started much earlier in the year. We’ll keep you updated.