North Carolina's congressional map is illegal Republican gerrymander, court rules
(Reuters) - A North Carolina court on Monday temporarily blocked the state from using its congressional map in next year’s elections and strongly suggested it would eventually rule the districts were illegally gerrymandered to favor Republicans.
The decision was a victory for Democrats, who have struggled to gain a foothold in both the state legislature and North Carolina’s 13 U.S. congressional districts, in part because of how Republicans drew the electoral lines.
The ruling seems likely to ensure that the state’s 2020 congressional elections will take place under a new map, dealing a blow to Republicans’ hopes of recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives after Democrats swept to power in that chamber last year.
Republicans hold 10 of the state’s 13 U.S. House seats, despite a nearly even split between Democratic and Republican votes in the popular count.
In an 18-page ruling, the judges said the voters who brought the lawsuit had shown a “substantial likelihood” of succeeding if the case were to reach trial.
The three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court that issued the decision is the same group that struck down the state’s legislative map in September, finding that it violated the state constitution’s free elections, equal protection and free speech clauses.
A similar challenge failed at the U.S. Supreme Court in June, when the court ruled federal judges had no jurisdiction over partisan gerrymandering, the act of drawing electoral lines to benefit one party over another.
Virginia Democrats’ Victory Proves That Gerrymandering Matters
In November 2017, a blue wave crashed down upon Virginia, as Democrats won the statewide vote by nearly 10 points. They failed, however, to seize control of the House of Delegates, which came down to a single tied race that was resolved by the elections board drawing the Republican’s name from a bowl and declaring him the winner.
On Tuesday, that Republican lost his seat, one of six that Democrats flipped to capture a majority the House of Delegates. Democratic candidates appear to have won the overall House vote once again–but this time, they gained a 55–45 majority. (They also won over the state Senate, 21–19, which holds elections every four years.) This turn of fortune reveals the impact of fair maps. In 2017, Democrats were severely disadvantaged by a Republican-drawn racial gerrymander that trapped a huge number of black voters in a handful of noncompetitive districts for nearly a decade. By 2019, that gerrymander was dead, killed off by the courts. And its demise has allowed Virginia Democrats to translate their votes into fair representation in the General Assembly, gaining full control of the state government for the first time since 1994.
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