Holder affiliated group launches new challenge to partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina .

Holder affiliated group launches new challenge to partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina   .

Holder affiliated group launches new challenge to partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina . The suit, by the National Redistricting Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of a political committee led by Holder, aims to capi­tal­ize on a recent state ruling that portions of North Carolinas state legislative districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to maximize Republicans advantage. For nearly a decade, the people of North Carolina have been forced to vote on manipulated electoral maps that were drawn by Republicans in the legislature to create a partisan outcome, Holder said in a statement. Its time for this era of gerrymandering in North Carolina to come to an end. The suit quotes a three judge panel in Wake County Superior Court, which wrote that district maps are unconstitutional if they are drawn with a predominant intent to favor voters aligned with one political party at the expense of other voters. The suit calls the states congressional map the most extreme and brazen partisan gerrymander in American history. It cites the Republican legislative leaders who established partisan advantage as an official criterion and directed that the map be drawn to maintain the current partisan makeup of North Carolinas congressional delegation. State Rep. David Lewis R , a defendant and the chairman of the state House redistricting committee, : I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe its possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats. The map, drawn in 2016, succeeded in that regard, keeping Republicans in control of 10 of the states 13 congressional seats in both federal elections since then — even though Democrats won 47 percent of the overall vote in 2016 and a majority of the vote in 2018. Lewis and several other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Republicans drew the current districts after the Supreme Court that the previous map had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered along racial lines. The Supreme Court in July of this year regarding partisan gerrymandering, ruling in another case involving North Carolinas congressional districts that the federal courts have no jurisdiction in such cases. That decision redirected the efforts of redistricting reformers, who to take their fight to state courts. The Sept. 3 ruling on the state legislative map in North Carolina was their first major victory since then, bolstering the hopes of activists who have been pushing for an end to partisan gerrymandering. One uncertainty with the latest suit, however, is whether it will wind through court quickly enough to produce new districts in time for the 2020 elections. The suit names individual voters from each of the states 13 congressional districts as plaintiffs. According to the suit, some live in overwhelmingly packed Democratic districts that ensure that the surrounding districts favor Republicans, while others live in cracked communities where Democratic enclaves were divided between two districts to dilute their electoral power. Among them is Amy Clare Oseroff, a teacher from Greenville who lives in the 1st Congressional District, into which Republicans packed the most heavily Democratic areas in Pitt and Wilson counties to create an overwhelmingly Democratic district — leaving the nearby 2nd and 3rd districts more favorable to Republicans. The map meticulously packs and cracks Democratic voters in each and every district — without exception, the suit states. The suit also cites the maps division of the campus of North Carolina A andT State University in Greensboro — the largest historically black university in the country. The boundary between the 6th and 13th districts cuts directly through campus, an egregious example of cracking, according to the suit. In Asheville, the University of North Carolina is split so dramatically that students living on different sides of the same dormitory live in different congressional districts, according to the suit. Aside from Lewis, the defendants include Republican House Speaker Timothy Moore, Senate President Philip Berger and the State Board of Elections. The suit makes numerous references to Thomas Hofeller, a longtime Republican strategist who specialized in drawing district boundaries and who gained attention this year, nearly a year after his death, when his estranged daughter released thousands of files from his business showing the extent to which he and Republicans used race and partisanship to draw boundaries. The files also showed that Hofeller was among those who had pushed the Trump administration to seek a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, which he concluded would allow Republicans to exclude noncitizens from apportionment considerations and draw even more dramatically gerrymandered maps. In a past lawsuit, Hofeller testified that his goal in North Carolina was to minimize the number of districts in which Democrats would have an opportunity to elect a Democratic candidate. He did so, he testified, with a sophisticated analysis of past voting behavior of residents of each district. He also did so before the legislative redistricting committees ever met, according to Lewis, who testified in a previous suit that he visited Hofellers home numerous times to see the progress of the map. The suit argues that the congressional map violates the state constitutions free elections clause, equal protection clause and freedom of speech and assembly clauses — exactly the provisions under which the three judge panel invalidated the state legislative maps three weeks ago. The 2016 congressional map should now meet the same fate as the unconstitutional and invalidated state legislative maps, the suit states. The facts of this case are undisputed, and the law of North Carolina is now settled. This Court should invalidate the gerrymandered 2016 congressional map immediately and order a new, fair map for use in the 2020 elections. Like the successful suit against the state legislative districts, the suit is being funded by the National Redistricting Foundation, which is the 501 c 3 affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

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