Supreme Court Grants North Carolina’s Application to Delay Redrawing of Electoral Maps, Putting Fair Elections in North Carolina in Jeopardy For 2018 Election

Voting Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Supreme Court said North Carolina does not have to redraw its congressional voting maps by January 29, as a federal district court ordered on January 9 when it struck down the 2016 map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) represent the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, in this legal challenge to state’s 2016 maps. North Carolina’s maps have been in dispute since 2012, and the Supreme Court invalidated the state’s 2012 and 2014 maps as a racial gerrymander. In 2016, North Carolina voters went to the polls with the current map, which the district court has now also ruled unconstitutional.
“North Carolina voters deserve to have a fair map before the 2018 election, or they risk a fourth consecutive election under an unconstitutional map that does not reflect their preferences,” said Ruth Greenwood, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting at CLC. “A single election under an unconstitutional map is one too many; four are intolerable. For that reason, the Supreme Court must move quickly to hear this case this term.”
“Voters and even most elected officials agree that partisan gerrymandering is violating the constitutional rights of Americans all over the country,” said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.  “While we are disappointed that the stay was granted, North Carolinians deserve to participate in fair elections in 2018.  We are optimistic that the U.S. Supreme Court will, before the end of this term in June, recognize the harm to our democracy created by partisan gerrymandering and find such egregious efforts to diminish voters’ power unconstitutional. We still believe the day is coming soon for the General Assembly to be held to account for this madness.  The law and the facts of this case make that clear.”
The Supreme Court is currently considering a case challenging Wisconsin’s state assembly maps as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. CLC and co-counsel represent 11 Democratic voters in the state in the landmark case, Gill v. Whitford. The federal district court in North Carolina applied the same tests for measuring partisan symmetry as applied in the Wisconsin case, indicating that there is in a fact a way to consistently measure what constitutes an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. CLC has combined forces with other groups and legal teams as these cases advance together through the courts.
“It’s clear that partisan gerrymandering continues to worsen decade by decade, and the result is voters are becoming voiceless in the political process. That is not democracy,” said Paul Smith, vice president of litigation and strategy at CLC, who argued Whitford before the Supreme Court in October. “Lawmakers will most likely never reform the system so long as they can get away with drawing maps that keep them in power. The Supreme Court is our last resort and has the opportunity this term to provide guidance to federal courts and state legislators to understand when a map crosses the line.”
Read more about the case League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Rucho.