Local & State
|Lawmakers meet to consider redraw of NC congressional districts|
|Committee opens talks on new boundaries|
|Published Tuesday, November 5, 2019 12:34 am|
|North Carolina lawmakers have assembled a joint committee to consider how to redraw congressional districts for the 2020 elections.|
North Carolina lawmakers are launching a panel to redraw congressional districts for the 2020 elections.
State Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) appointed an interim committee to craft new boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives. The panel’s first meeting is today at 1 p.m. at the Legislative Office Building and open to the public.
Five African Americans are on the committee: Democratic Sens. Dan Blue (Wake), Ben Clark (Cumberland) and Toby Fitch (Edgecombe) as well as Reps. Robert Reives (Durham), Shelly Willingham (Edgecomb). Mecklenburg County, the state’s most populous with more than 1 million people, has no representation.
U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, who represents the 12th Congressional District that includes most of Mecklenburg, said last week she’ll campaign for a fourth term regardless of the map’s lines. Critics of the lines contend Republicans used race and party affiliation to create gerrymanders that skew favorably to GOP candidates.
“There has been substantial interest in where congressional redistricting stands right now and what we expect to happen in the coming weeks,” said Sen. Ralph Hise, a Mitchell County Republican who chairs the Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections and will also co-chair the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting. “The short and honest answer right now is ‘I don’t know.’”
A three-judge Superior Court panel ordered an injunction last week against the current congressional map to remedy a partisan gerrymander that favors Republican candidates. Plaintiffs successfully argued that the current lines, drawn by Republicans who control both chambers of the General Assembly. The current lines all but guarantee Republican wins in 10 of 13 districts. Voters statewide break nearly evenly for Democrats and Republicans.
“We are currently under a state court’s ‘wink-and-nod’ quasi-order that says they haven't gone through enough process yet to determine that the current congressional maps violate the North Carolina Constitution, but they ‘urge’ us to go ahead and create new maps,” Hise said. “At the same time, a well-respected former justice of the N.C. Supreme Court filed a federal lawsuit last week arguing that the state court's wink-and-nod quasi-order would actually violate the U.S. constitutional rights of North Carolinians.
“Frankly, I’m waiting on a judge somewhere to tell me which version of which Constitution to follow. I know what I think the law is, but sometimes that doesn’t have any bearing on what a judge might order.
The judges didn’t give the state a deadline to redraw the maps, and an appeal could still be filed. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that state courts are better suited to decide redistricting disputes. Republican lawmakers argued a redraw would create voter confusion and potentially delay elections, including the March 3, 2020 primary.
“We’re going to move forward and begin the redistricting process because the filing period starts in less than one month, whether under the current map or a new one,” Hise said. “We intend to keep the state on schedule and not cram the election process.
“But we’re in a difficult place with no clear direction on which way to go.”
|It is absurd that that the Republicans just get their hands slapped for continually subverting our honest elections.|
|Posted on November 7, 2019|
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