Reactions to ruling on NC congressional districts 1 and 12


mapMain.jpgIn yesterday’s order to the NC General Assembly to immediately redraw congressional districts after finding that the map violates the Constitution, Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote:

“Because race predominated, the state must demonstrate that its districting decision is narrowly tail0red to achieve a compelling interest. Even if the court assumes that compliance with the [Voting Rights Act] is a compelling state interest, attempts at such compliance ‘cannot justify race-based districting where the challenged district was not reasonably necessary under a constitutional reading and application’ of federal law. Thus, narrow tailoring requires that the legislature have a ‘strong basis in evidence’ for its race-based decision, that is, ‘good reasons to believe’ that the chosen racial classification was required to comply with the VRA. Evidence of narrow tailoring in this case is practically nonexistent; the state does not proffer any evidence with respect to CD 12. Based on this record, as explained below, the court concludes that North Carolina’s 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan was not narrowly tailored to achieve compliance with the VRA, and therefore fails strict scrutiny.”

Some reaction:

Bob Hall, executive director, Democracy North Carolina: “We congratulated the team of attorneys and researchers at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice who have skillfully challenged North Carolina’s racially gerrymandered political districts! The panel of federal judges agreed that NC legislative leaders used race as the ‘nonnegotiable criterion’ for how the boundary lines were drawn for Congressional District 1 and 12. Black and white voters were carefully segregated on the assumption that black voters uniformly voted against the Republican mapmakers’ interests and therefore needed to be packed together and isolated to restrict their political influence.”

Pete Glidewell, Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District: “The decision tonight by a panel of federal judges that mandates the US Congress district map to be redrawn by February 19th is a repudiation of the North Carolina General Assembly and the North Carolina Supreme Court, who both had previously approved the districts. This is the second in a series of adjustments that have complicated understandable and fair elections for the people of North Carolina. First the primary was moved from May to March. Now the redrawing of the districts will put a burden on the electorate as to who they can vote for less than 30 days before the primary.

“I just want to say that no matter what the district map for the 6th district is, if my home is still in it, I will run with the same focus of putting American jobs first to rebuild our middle class and economy.”

Jim Roberts, Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District: “As a Representative candidate for the 6th Congressional District of North Carolina I hereby call on the people of North Carolina, the Democratic and Republican parties and the North Carolina legislature to step forward and establish an independent redistricting commission composed of one Democrat and one Independent selected by the Democratic Party, one Republican, and one independent selected by the Republican Party. And a fifth person that is a career employee of the state government and that is selected by the other four. All those selected should have a well rounded familiarity with North Carolina’s geography, agriculture, aquaculture, population and business. Their job should be to as evenly as possible divide North Carolina into the established number of congressional districts by adjoining counties that have a like number of people, a regional commonality without any partial counties in any district and no district composed of less than 3 counties.”

Harris Opinion on CD 1 & 12 by Jordan Green