On Thursday, a state elections board ordered a new election for North Carolina’s 9th congressional district race due to absentee ballot fraud.
Then, on Friday, a judge in North Carolina tossed out the state’s constitutional amendment requiring a voter ID. He cited prevalent gerrymandering in the state’s General Assembly.
Wake County Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins wrote in a ruling late Friday afternoon:
‘Accordingly, the constitutional amendments placed on the ballot on November 6, 2018 were approved by a General Assembly that did not represent the people of North Carolina.’
BREAKING: A Wake County Superior just threw out two of the new constitutional amendments – voter ID and tax cap – because the General Assembly is so deeply gerrymandered that it doesn’t truly represent the state. https://t.co/efHMwiXeO8 #ncpol
— Sen. Jeff Jackson (@JeffJacksonNC) February 22, 2019
‘An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution.’
The judge also threw out an amendment to cap the state income tax rate.
When the state legislature drew up the amendments and voted to place them on the 2018 ballot, the members who largely voted to do so had been elected under district lines that were ruled unconstitutional. This is primarily due to the fact that the lines had been drawn to dilute the political power of African-American voters.
NAACP president Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman stated in a press release after Judge Collins’ ruling:
‘We are delighted that the acts of the previous majority, which came to power through the use of racially discriminatory maps, have been checked.
‘The prior General Assembly’s attempt to use its ill-gotten power to enshrine a racist photo voter ID requirement in the state constitution was particularly egregious, and we applaud the court for invalidating these attempts at unconstitutional overreach.’
The ballot amendments were backed by Republican lawmakers. GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said in a written statement:
‘These amendments were placed on the ballot and passed by an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians. This unprecedented and absurd ruling by a liberal judge is the very definition of judicial activism.’
The voter ID amendment received 55.5 percent of the vote while the amendment to cap the state income tax received 57 percent of the vote.
Senate leader Phil Berger said in a written statement:
‘We are duty-bound to appeal this absurd decision. The prospect of invalidating 18 months of laws is the definition of chaos and confusion. Based on tonight’s opinion and others over the past several years, it appears the idea of judicial restraint has completely left the state of North Carolina.’
Two additional amendments passed in November which were not part of the court’s ruling – one dealt with hunting rules and the other was a proposal to give crime victims expanded rights in the court system. Those amendments were not affected by Friday’s court ruling.
Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down gerrymandering in North Carolina, thowing out North Carolina’s maps for two of the state’s 13 congressional districts. Former Attorney General Eric Holder called it “a watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering.”
When states are drawing up district lines following a decennial census, they can by law consider race as a factor. However, the ruling indicated:
‘to use race as a predominant factor, the state has to have a compelling interest. For example, a state can say that it needs to, under the federal Voting Rights Act, consider race to ensure that a minority voting bloc isn’t consistently negated by a larger set of white voters who vote against the minority voting bloc’s preferred candidate.’
Here’s what Twitter had to say:
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