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U.S. Supreme Court will hear partisan gerrymander challenges

Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a challenge to North Carolina’s 2016 congressional redistricting plan, which is one of the most egregious partisan gerrymanders in American history.

The case has the potential to reshape future redistricting nationwide by limiting politicians’ ability to suppress the voices of voters in how they draw electoral districts. Oral arguments will be held later this term.

“Partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina has become so pervasive that the outcome of many elections is decided before a single vote is cast,” said Janet Hoy, co-president of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina. “We have full hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will accept the two lower court rulings and reject the Defendant’s request to further litigate this matter so that voters can have the fair elections they deserve and assurance that their vote matters.”

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and University of Chicago Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos represent the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and 12 individual North Carolina plaintiffs in the case, League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Rucho. The Supreme Court will simultaneously hear companion cases, Common Cause v. Rucho and Maryland redistricting case Benisek v. Lamone. 

“For far too long, politicians in North Carolina have gamed the system to keep control,” said Chris Carson, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “It is time we put the power back in the hands of the voters to determine the direction of their state. District lines must be drawn in a way that reflects our communities. Only through independent, citizen-led redistricting can we truly create fair maps.”

If the Supreme Court rules that the state’s maps are unconstitutional, this victory could curtail the undemocratic practice of partisan gerrymandering nationwide. Last term, the Supreme Court heard the case of Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to Wisconsin’s gerrymandered Assembly maps. The Supreme Court sent both the North Carolina and Wisconsin cases back to district court with clear instructions. With that guidance, the District Court ruled that North Carolina’s map is clearly a partisan gerrymander, and thus unconstitutional to use in the state.

“Now that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this case, we are hopeful that the Court will set a standard that can reign in partisan gerrymandering once and for all,” said Celina Stewart, Director of Advocacy and Litigation at the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “There is no better time to establish a process, with the 2020 Census approaching—which will guide the next round of redistricting and ensure district lines are drawn in a manner that reflects voting populations, not the politicians in power.”

With the case now set to be decided this term, voters move closer to fair and legal maps drawn for the 2020 elections.

augusta free press
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