Redistricting of Wake County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education ruled unconstitutional

DURHAM, N.C.— On July 1, 2016, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the General Assembly’s redistricting plans for the Wake County Board of Education and Board of County Commissioners are unconstitutional and elections should not proceed in 2016 using those plans.

The appeals court struck down two North Carolina laws that dramatically restructured the two boards. The Fourth Circuit found that the plans did not follow the “one person, one vote” guarantee in the federal and state constitutions.
Specifically, the appeals court held that the General Assembly had unevenly populated districts, giving more power to voters in districts that were underpopulated, and that they did so for illegitimate reasons—partisan gain. The Fourth Circuit stated that, “We see no reason why the November 2016 elections should proceed under the unconstitutional plans we strike down today.”
Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented plaintiffs in this action, said of the ruling: “This decision is an important recognition that redistricting is not a free-for-all. The Constitution provides safeguards to ensure that partisan gamesmanship does not interfere with the right an equal vote. Every voter’s vote should be weighted equally.”
Now it is up to the General Assembly to redraw the district lines. A session to resolve the matter was intended for the evening of Friday, July 1, but was rescheduled and is pending.
For the full PDF of the 4th Circuit Opinion, click here.