NC Supreme Court rules legislative and congressional maps as unconstitutional gerrymanders
“The maps violate a voter’s fundamental right to vote,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Supreme Court is striking down the redrawn legislative and congressional maps as unconstitutional gerrymanders, according to the state’s attorney general and governor.
On Friday, Attorney General Josh Stein said that the state Supreme Court just struck down the legislative and congressional maps as an “unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.”
“The maps violate a voter’s fundamental right to vote,” AG Stein said.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper then followed up with a tweet of his own about the Supreme Court’s decision.
“A healthy democracy requires free elections and the NC Supreme Court is right to order a redraw of unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts. More work remains and any legislative redraw must reflect the full intent of this decision,” Gov. Cooper tweeted.
Gov. Cooper and AG Stein had recently filed an amicus brief in two cases urging the court to ensure that state elections are conducted under fair maps that are free from partisan gerrymandering.
“The trial court recognized what has been obvious all along, that the legislative and congressional maps were intentionally gerrymandered,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “That’s wrong and unconstitutional because it strips voters of their voice and power in our democracy.”
The plaintiffs in the two cases alleged that the congressional and state legislative districts enacted by the Republican members of the General Assembly are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.
A North Carolina judicial panel had ruled to allow redistricting maps drawn by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to move forward, rejecting arguments that the lines were illegally politically stacked for Republicans.
The unanimous decision by the three trial judges, which followed a quick trial last week, were appealed by the advocacy groups and voters who challenged the new congressional and legislative lines in court.
“Partisan gerrymandering distorts our democracy and violates our constitution. North Carolina’s constitution guarantees that people are sovereign and our elections are free,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “That’s why voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will return the power to the people by clarifying that our constitution prohibits partisan gerrymandering.”
The North Carolina Supreme Court had already ruled that all state primary elections must be delayed until May 2022 so state courts can review lawsuits claiming illegal gerrymandering.
Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein’s brief explained that, according to the North Carolina Constitution, “political power must be vested in and derived from the people” and that “our elected leaders flout that principle when they seek to perpetuate their power irrespective of the will of the voters.”
The brief also urged the court to ensure that any constitutional violations identified by the court “are remedied swiftly and completely.”
Read the brief here.
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