Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Lawmakers request help from SCOTUS after 'disruptive' partisan gerrymandering ruling

Lawmakers request help from SCOTUS after 'disruptive' partisan gerrymandering ruling

The judges said the invidious partisanship of the Republican-drawn maps ran contrary to the voters' constitutional right to elect their representatives.

"It makes no sense whatsoever to force North Carolina to immediately remedy a purported partisan gerrymandering violation and commence its 2018 election cycle under a new court-imposed map before this court can even decide whether and under what circumstances such claims may be adjudicated", Clement told Roberts, who receives appeals from North Carolina.

The deadline is important because candidates for the November congressional elections begin filing for the primaries on February 12.

Additionally, Strach contended, blocking the effects of the order by the three judges would be in keeping what the high court had done in a Wisconsin case that tests the breadth to which lawmakers can redistrict for partisan gain.

The judges unanimously agreed that the state's lawmakers violated the equal-protection clause in the U.S. Constitution when the state's Republicans drew maps explicitly to favor their party.

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Both legal arguments were made in the North Carolina case, the first ruling in which the federal courts have found congressional districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

Allison Riggs, lead trial attorney for the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, which is challenging the map along with Common Case in two separate cases that were consolidated, called the officials' request inappropriate.

A group of Democratic voters had originally filed a lawsuit saying the map should be thrown out because the lawmakers who created the map in 2011, gerrymandered it to help Republicans.

A spokeswoman for Republican state Sen. Hise and state Rep. David Lewis have led redistricting efforts in the legislature.

Although the federal ruling is a win for Democrats, many Republicans have broken with their party over gerrymandering.

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North Carolina Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to block a federal district court's decision to strike down the state's congressional voter map. The Gill decision could have sweeping consequences for redistricting processes across the nation.

Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments last fall in the Wisconsin case, which involved state legislative districts, and are expected to issue a ruling by early summer.

Indeed, a year after the redistricting, Republicans captured only a minority of the statewide vote - 48.6 percent - but, as they had privately predicted, they still won 60 of the 99 state legislative seats, while the Democrats, who had won a majority of the vote, captured a mere 39 seats.

The federal judges announced that they would employ "a special master", a mapmaker unaffiliated with either party, to draw maps they could consider alongside any put forward by the lawmakers.

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