What’s Going to Happen with a Challenge to North Carolina’s Congressional District Partisan Gerrymander? Two Significant Hurdles to a Lawsuit.

from Election Law Blog

Democrats are now pondering a state court challenge to North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering of the state’s 13 congressional districts, following a state court ruling that the state legislative districts are a partisan gerrymander. The U.S. Supreme Court in the Rucho case rejected a challenge to North Carolina’s congressional districts based on the U.S. constitution but that would not preclude a state constitutional challenge. But there are two significant hurdles.

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3 Responses to What’s Going to Happen with a Challenge to North Carolina’s Congressional District Partisan Gerrymander? Two Significant Hurdles to a Lawsuit.

  1. Kathleen Watts September 6, 2019 at 7:25 pm #

    As we get closer and closer to possibly one of the most interesting presidential election cycles of this generation, we can see all the factors that could drastically change results. From CEOs running for president to infringements on federal law, anything could happen at this point. While there are many rumors of Russian intervention affecting the results of the 2016 election, this time the issue might be more homegrown. This won’t be the first time that North Carolina’s districting has been brought into question. In 1993, in the landmark Shaw v. Reno case, there was an accusation of racial gerrymandering in which a slither of pink that ran diagonally through the state encompassed basically all of its black residents in a segratory fashion. The district lines were thrown out by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote for Shaw. In this case, an accusation of partisan gerrymandering, backed up by a state court decision, is on the table. Since the beginning of the last election cycle, around 2014, politics has become remarkably split and divisive. People on both sides started getting incredibly defensive and closed minded, cutting off close friends and sometimes family members for declaring to vote for the other party. Accusations from both candidates were thrown and debates started to look more like arguments between siblings instead of the professional debates that they were. Many think that these are new problems, but they are absolutely not. Even since the beginning of the two-party system, you can see clear signs of these same issues, with people attempting to kill the President they didn’t want in office, with two succeeding. In this case in particular, these lines were drawn nearly ten years ago, when Obama was in the middle of his first term and Democrats had a lot of power, just not over North Carolina. The fact that is took this long for this to become an issue, with the first case against it coming up last year, might be surprising to some, but I believe that the opposition probably weren’t too concerned until they saw how it affected the 2016 election and how this issue will have the same effect on the 2020 election. The question now is, will this problem be solved before the 2020 election cycle? Even if this does reach the Supreme Court, there is a high probability that the ruling will be no different than the one turned out during Rucho in which the Supreme Court decided that the districts had not been gerrymandered. This might be one of the Supreme Court Cases that defines our generation for years to come, or might fly pretty much under the radar. If the districts do get changed before the 2020 election, that could drastically change North Carolina’s overall decision and where the majority of their electoral votes go. If districts are drawn to favor Democrats, theoretically, that would be a drastic change. This could get very interesting, or very boring.

  2. Stephen Hoffman September 13, 2019 at 1:21 pm #

    Stories like this makes me wish individuals placed more of an emphasis on the importance of midterm elections. While the House, Senate, and executive rarely share the same political party, if this were to be the cases the power possessed by this party would be immense and relatively unchecked (especially with a right-leaning Supreme Court). Gerrymandering is one of the greatest inequities within the American political and legal system. Parties having the ability to split up voting districts based on political lines in order to give a candidate a better chance at winning an election is antithetical to the idea of a representative democracy, one that the framers kept in mind at all times. This type of power and abuse of it goes further than electing certain candidates, as it actually hurts the effected people within the districts. Individuals lose their ability for their vote to matter in a system that allows for gerrymandering, and that practice needs to be done away with in order for the system to reach its potential. The system takes advantage of people’s indifference to non-presidential elections, and it is unfair and anti-democratic.
    When the Rucho case went to the Supreme Court, I was hopeful that we would finally reach a consensus on the unfairness and inequity behind gerrymandering, and was subsequently incredibly disappointed when the court left the power to rule against gerrymandering to congress, the exact individuals who benefit from the broken system. However, the court ruled against Rucho and opened the door for the practice to continue. With the controversy surrounding the North Carolina congressional map, it seems unlikely to me that anything will actually get done before the 2020 election. With cases not being drawn up yet and the election occurring in just over a year, a constitutional challenge within the state of North Carolina is unlikely given the time it would take for sufficient planning and argument, especially in such a major decision. The courts would have to prepare too much and the case itself would likely be drawn out in an effort to prevent its impact from being felt in 2020. This is the unfortunate reality of the legal and electoral system in today’s United States, making true electoral fairness difficult to achieve.

  3. Cole November 6, 2019 at 10:43 pm #

    Before diving into this article, it is important to know that partisan gerrymandering is the redistricting that favors one political party over another. Partisan gerrymandering has a long tradition in the United States that precedes the 1789 election of the First U.S. Congress. Now this article discusses how Democrats are challenging North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering of the state’s 13 congressional districts. There are two major hurdles to overcome for a successful lawsuit. The first being that there may not be enough time for such a challenge to take affect before the 2020 elections. The second is that it is unclear whether the ruling in September has any precedential value in a challenge to congressional maps.
    This article references the case Rucho v. Common Cause, which is a landmark case heard by the United States Supreme Court regarding partisan gerrymandering. In this case North Carolina redistricting map released in 2011 resulted in nine districts favoring Republicans. The legal challenge claimed that the map utilized racial gerrymandering which was unconstitutional under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When it reached and was heard by the United States Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts and the 5-4 majority opinion caused the Court to rule that the “partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts” vacating and remanding the lower courts’ decisions with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion that say “Of all the times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections. With respect but deep sadness, I dissent.”
    So, you can see the mess that the Democrats currently find themselves in for the upcoming elections as this decision rests with the lower courts.

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