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Federal court orders NC to redraw gerrymandered Congress districts
New lines must be in place by January 29
Published Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:54 pm
by Herbert L. White

North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts are headed for redrawing.

A panel of federal judges struck down the state’s 2016 district lines as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered the General Assembly to fix them by Jan. 29. The court also plans to employ a special master to draw an alternative remedial plan, to be enacted before the 2018 congressional elections.

In announcing their decision, the three-judge panel for North Carolina’s Middle District said: "On its most fundamental level, partisan gerrymandering violates 'the core principle of republican government . . . that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.'"

Plaintiffs and voter groups hailed the decision.

“We applaud the court's decision on behalf of all voters in North Carolina and the work of the plaintiffs and their legal teams, who worked tirelessly to hold the North Carolina legislature's brazen partisan gerrymander to account,” said Tomas Lopez, executive director for Democracy North Carolina. “In every corner of this state our supporters have rallied again and again to demand our lawmakers draw fair maps, and with this ruling we expect the N.C. General Assembly to adhere to the court's order and finally listen to their constituents.”

Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in a statement: “A bipartisan three-judge federal panel agreed with us today that partisan gerrymandering is an affront to our Equal Protection Clause.  They recognized the egregious nature of what the North Carolina General Assembly did in 2016, purportedly to remedy another unconstitutional congressional redistricting plan.”  

According the federal court's Jan. 9 ruling, the Republican-dominated General Assembly has until January 29 to launch a remedial plan.

“This ruling is a victory for democracy,” said U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, whose congressional district includes Charlotte. “The Republican-controlled General Assembly has deprived North Carolina voters of constitutional districts for nearly a decade in order to maintain their control in state and federal government.”

“We’re enormously gratified on behalf of our clients and all voters in North Carolina that no one will have to endure another congressional election under an unconstitutional map. The court was clear in demanding a real remedy before the 2018 elections, and we expect the General Assembly to respect that order.”

Democratic National Committee Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Participation Karen Carter Peterson said the federal court made the right call by ordering a do-over.

“Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around,” she said.

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