If elections were based solely on popular votes, Republicans would lose big. Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by millions of votes during the 2016 presidential election. Because Republican lawmakers manage to stack districts just right, they cheat the system. Gerrymandering helps them get votes. On Thursday, a federal court accused North Carolina Republicans of illegally drawing election districts. They did it in just a way to weaken the influence of black voters, who historically vote Democratic.
Judges from the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina ruled that nearly 24% of North Carolina’s districts were unconstitutional. Last month, Republicans submitted a new plan to change up the regions. But the court ruled that nine were still illegal or unconstitutional.
Because the Republicans can’t get the districts right, the court plans to appoint Stanford law professor Nathaniel Persily as a “special master” to keep Republicans accountable. And the Court has given Persily power to redraw the districts to make
“The court must have suspected to some degree that the new districts are unconstitutional.”
The Republicans deny everything – of course. They claim their new districts aren’t unconstitutional because they didn’t consider race at all when they redrew the lines.
But the court was suspicious of the North Carolina Republicans. And University of Florida professor, Michael McDonald, an expert witness called in on other gerrymandering cases, says that Persily’s appointment proves that the courts suspect the North Carolina Republicans of wrongdoing.
“The court must have suspected to some degree that the new districts are unconstitutional,” he said. Persily “is fair and will not prejudge the districts until he has evaluated the available evidence. He could recommend new remedial districts, or he could agree that the legislature’s plan has addressed the court’s concern.”
Neither the state’s Senate president nor the House Speaker would comment following their defeat.
Meanwhile, State Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise didn’t like the court’s decision. In a joint statement, these Republicans criticized the court for trying to control their gerrymandering.
“Similar to this same federal court’s order for a special election in North Carolina that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, this unusual and vague order provides absolutely no legal or factual basis for objecting to the new maps, while also potentially delegating the legislature’s constitutional authority to draw districts to a lone professor in California with no accountability to North Carolinians,” the Republican wrote in a confusingly long sentence.
Meanwhile, former President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder are leading an initiative to squelch Republican gerrymandering.
“American voters deserve fair maps that represent our diverse communities — and we need a coordinated strategy to make that happen,” Holder said. “This unprecedented new effort will ensure Democrats have a seat at the table to create fairer maps after 2020.”
With Obama’s support, Holder is heading the umbrella group, National Democratic Redistricting Committee. This group will organize ballot initiatives and coordinate campaign strategy. It will also challenge redistricted maps – especially those that Republicans have drawn to weaken minority voters.
What do you make of the Republican’s plans to weaken the vote of blacks and other minorities through gerrymandering?