As the 2020 elections only get closer, Democrats now have another victory to count on for assistance in their fight to promote the voice of the people. A North Carolina state court has struck down the Congressional district map that state Republicans issued in 2016, when they brazenly discussed delivering an advantage to their party as an explicit aim of the district lines. Although the map has been struck down with a “temporary injunction,” the ruling seems sure to set the stage for new lines — in a federal case involving these very same district lines, the U.S. Supreme Court already explicitly ruled that district lines were within the purview of state courts.
‘The judges said the gerrymandering, which benefits Republicans in the state, was so severe that it ran afoul of the state’s constitution… Republicans drew the map in 2016 and openly talked about the advantage it gave to Republicans… The judicial panel cited the state constitution’s guarantee of free elections, equal protection under the law and freedom of speech and assembly.’
The advocacy organization Swing Left insisted in response:
‘North Carolina Republicans gerrymandered their Congressional maps “with surgical precision” to disenfranchise African-American voters. Then they tried to put off new maps until AFTER 2020. Today’s ruling is a step in the right direction.’
North Carolina Republicans gerrymandered their Congressional maps “with surgical precision” to disenfranchise African-American voters. Then they tried to put off new maps until AFTER 2020. Today’s ruling is a step in the right direction. #FairMaps https://t.co/HCFYB27I7R
— Swing Left (@swingleft) October 28, 2019
These same judges previously heard a case against state House and Senate districts, and they threw those lines out under the condemnation of having served as a Republican power grab as well. In this case, the court has forbidden usage of the Congressional district lines in any future election — the next one is the state primary election in March, which the State Board of Elections has said needs finalized lines by December 15.
The Republican advantage that they cite has already played out in the real world — Republicans occupy a full ten of the state’s thirteen seats in the U.S. House. Both of their Senators are Republicans too, although those elections aren’t dependent on district lines — everyone in the state participates, but showing just how much Democratic fervor unfair North Carolina district creators might be hoping to quell, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020. The Cook Political Report rates his race as just “leaning” Republican, which is the last category before “toss-up.”
Other vulnerable Republican Senators include Maine’s Susan Collins, Arizona’s Martha McSally, and Colorado’s Cory Gardner. The Cook Political Report rates each one of their races as a “toss-up,” while they give the same rating to just one Democratic Senator’s race, that of Alabama’s Doug Jones.
Numerous other state district lines have been successfully challenged in court. Pennsylvania judges demanded a new, fairer map ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and thereby — just by demanding fairness! — helped contribute to Democrats picking up a handful of new Congressional seats in that state. Implementing similarly fair new lines in North Carolina could have a similar result. Trump won the state in 2016 by a margin of just about four percent.