The U.S. Supreme Court heard a lot Tuesday about what is wrong with the way North Carolina’s congressional districts are laid out. There were no questions about the bad or the good.
The job of the nine justices isn’t about that — only what is or isn’t constitutional. It will likely be around June when we learn the court’s determination on constitutionality.
North Carolinians have lived with, in one form or another, legally questionable congressional and legislative districts since 2013. It played out in the Supreme Court Tuesday and in state courts on Monday.
It is time to get off the judicial treadmill. The matter can be effectively resolved in the state legislature. If not, the voters can take matters into their own hands in 2020.
The current state of unfairness isn’t a matter of partisan point of view. It is a fact. In the 2018 elections Democratic congressional candidates captured 49.7 percent of the votes cast in North Carolina. Yet they ended up with just three seats — 23 percent.
Common Cause of North Carolina has done praise-worthy work to raise this issue and press for solutions. It has patiently and doggedly cataloged and illustrated the extreme gerrymandering — worst in the nation. It has built a strong coalition to bring effective legal challenges — taking the problem to the highest court in the land.
Common Cause hasn’t simply talked about the problem. It has worked to build a nonpartisan network offering realistic solutions. A bipartisan panel of retired state judges produced a congressional map to illustrate how independent redistricting, without consideration of voting history or partisan affiliation, can work in the state. The result was more competitive districts where all voters would have an opportunity to make their choices at the ballot box count.
“Does one person have one vote that counts equally with others, if the impact of her vote is reduced based on her party affiliation?” as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg offered shortly after Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments opened.
The question laid bare the true motive, openly boasted by a Republican legislative leader in 2016. Some votes would become “more equal” than others.
“I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw maps with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,” said state Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, in a startlingly brazen and candid acknowledgment.
The extreme gerrymandering in North Carolina today has effectively disenfranchised millions of voters based merely on their political views.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause and before the General Assembly adjourns, the legislature needs to enact a system for non-partisan electoral redistricting so EVERY vote matters.
North Carolinians are weary of the perpetual court battles and unfair representation. Our legislators need to fix the problem now — or voters should apply their own fix at the ballot box.