North Carolina Justices Take Another Look at 2011 Redistricting

redistrictingRALEIGH—The State Supreme Court is once again considering the state’s Republican drawn Legislative and Congressional districts.

The Federal justices want the state court to review the racial composition of North Carolina’s maps, in light of a case from Alabama.

Attorneys made oral arguments during Monday’s hearing, and the plaintiffs’ objection to the North Carolina districts was based on the claim that the maps are drawn to reduce the impact of minority voters.

“What we are fighting for is the right to define our political identity in terms of the interest that voters care about, the common interests that they share and not to be dividing it by race,” said plaintiff Anita Earls.

However, attorneys representing the state said the court should rule that race was not a motive when redistricting the map.

“Because of all the other factors that this court has already recognized that went into the drawing of these districts,” said Tom Farr.

Some lawmakers who were at the hearing had mixed reactions after.

“Anytime race becomes a predominant factor, in doing anything, not just electoral districts, anytime race is a predominant factor, the 14th Amendment requires that there be a compelling state interest for it and that you strictly restrict whatever the remedy is,” Sen. Dan Blue (D) Wake Co.

“We followed it to the letter of the law, which is what this Supreme Court set forward and also the fact that the court has validated on the U.S. level, so in essence, if you follow the law, you basically have a cookbook, and that’s exactly what we did to achieve the results,” said Sen. Bob Rucho (R) Mecklenburg Co.

The state’s current district maps were drawn in 2011 and were used in two elections, but it is unknown where they will stay for 2016.

Now it is up for the State Supreme Court to do next and Earls said there is no timeline for when that decision has to be released.

– Carly Swanson

Supreme Court Orders Review of North Carolina Redistricting


RALEIGH — The U.S. Supreme Court says North Carolina needs to take another look at its redistricting maps from 2011.

North Carolina’s high court had already signed off on the maps, which are drawn every 10 years to determine congressional and state district boundary lines, but now the U.S. Supreme Court is vacating that approval.

“This was race-based redistricting worse that we had seen since the 19th Century,” said North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber.

The decision came with no comment from the justices but with reference to a decision from last month on Alabama’s district lines.

Legislative leaders say this is just part of the process. In a joint statement, the two leading map drawers said:

“Today’s procedural ruling is not unexpected and we are confident that our state Supreme Court will once again arrive at the same result and the U.S. Supreme Court will affirm its decision.”

Redistricting maps can play a very important role in politics. The party in charge at the 10-year point when the maps are drawn will often draw the new maps to favor their party.

In this case, Republicans were in charge, allowing them to draw the maps. They held on to supermajorities in both the state House and Senate under the new maps as well as sitting in 10 of the state’s 13 congressional seats.

Plantiffs looking to have the district lines redrawn say they are considering this a step toward victory.

“This means that our North Carolina General Assembly and our congressional delegation are probably illegally constituted,” Barber said.

The NAACP and others acted fast after the Supreme Court ruling came down. Hours later, they asked the state Supreme Court for an expedited schedule to reconsider, saying:

“Plaintiffs now respectfully move the court to establish an expedited schedule for resolving these cases on remand that is designed reasonably to assure that the 2016 legislative and congressional elections are held under valid and lawful redistricting plans.”

The redistricting maps previously were unanimously approved by a three-judge panel and upheld by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

– Loretta Boniti

Bill Could Redesign Districts for Wake Co. Board of Commissioners

legislature_0203WAKE COUNTY — A bill to redesign the districts for the Wake County Board of Commissioners is on the fast track at the General Assembly.

A proposal to overhaul the current district map was introduced on Wednesday, and by Thursday afternoon, it was in committee getting public comment.

After last fall’s election, the entire Wake County Board of Commission turned blue, every member a Democrat. On Wednesday, Wake County State Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Republican, introduced a bill to re-draw the districts in Wake.

“What this bill is seeking to do is provide more representation for eastern Wake County’s rural communities and the small towns in Wake County, which I might add, make up half of the population of Wake County. And right now, five of the seven members are from Raleigh,” said Sen. Chad Barefoot, Wake County.

Under Barefoot’s proposal, the current seven member board would be increased to nine members.

Right now, the current members are all elected at-large or by the full county electorate.

Under the proposal, seven districts, mirroring the districts drawn last year by Republicans for school board seats, would be elected only by members of the district.

The two new seats would be at large. Some opponents say these changes are drastic and unnecessary.

“Because you lose an election, you don’t immediately turn around and change the rules to throw out the results of that election. So you can win the next one. It’s offensive to our democracy,” said Sen. Josh Stein, Wake County.

Just one day after the bill was first filed in the legislature, it was put on a committee calendar for consideration.

While no votes were taken, members of the public were given a chance to speak, and they say this is all moving too fast.

“Complex problems require divergent solutions. And actually I don’t think that we’ve had enough time to look at this bill. I think that it needs further study,” said James West, Wake County commission chair.

The committee chair says he expects the first on this bill to be taken next week.

Under the proposal, no sitting commissioners would lose his or her seat as a result of the new districts, and the new districts would not become fully effective until 2018.

– Loretta Boniti

NC Supreme Court Upholds Redistricting Maps Drawn In 2011

RALEIGH — The NC Supreme Court has upheld the district maps drawn by the Republican legislature in 2011.

The court heard arguments back in January challenging the maps, the plaintiffs claimed they were illegal and showed a racial bias.

They were hoping to force new maps to be drawn for the 2014 election.

But the Supreme Court agreed with the three judge panel that the plan satisfies state and constitutional requirements, and did not violate the plaintiff’s rights.

The maps were used in the 2012 election and are set to stay in effect until 2020.


NC redistricting maps upheld by three-judge panel

RALEIGH–A three-judge panel has upheld the boundaries for North Carolina’s legislative and congressional seats that were drawn by Republicans in 2011.

The Superior Court judges ruled unanimously Monday in favor of the GOP legislative leaders whose chambers drew the maps by letting the boundaries stand.

Democratic voters, civil rights groups and election advocates had sued over the lines, arguing they were racially biased.

The judges wrote the boundaries do not impair the constitutional rights of North Carolina citizens as they are defined by law.

Those who sued could seek to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican and Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, the chairmen of the General Assembly Redistricting Committees, released the following joint statement Monday morning in response to the ruling:

This unanimous decision should put to rest the baseless arguments that the General Assembly engaged in racial discrimination during the redistricting process.  The court’s unanimous decision is a clear repudiation of the unfounded assertions of the plaintiffs, and is proof that the General Assembly followed the letter and spirit of the law in establishing new voting boundaries that are fair and legal.  We are pleased that the unanimous decision makes clear that the General Assembly protected the rights of minority voters, as required by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Court hearing begins on 2010 redistricting maps

RALEIGH — Testimony from several current and former North Carolina politicians marked the first day of the redistricting hearing in Raleigh.

Former State Sen. Eric Mansfield said the district map changes in 2011 caused a split in all the precincts including his own neighborhood.

“They live less than 20 feet across the street from me and when they figured out what was going on said ‘hey I can’t vote for you anymore because I’m no longer in your district.’ ” said Mansfield.

Mansfield said the voter maps turned his area into a crab-like district. And he wasn’t alone. Several current and former state politicians testified about the state’s voter maps and whether or not race played a role in their creation.

“We got to move forward. We got to be one people at the end of the day,” said former congressman Bob Etheridge.

Congressman Mel Watt recalled a conversation he had with Sen. Bob Rucho when Rucho told him they were going to ramp up the 12th congressional voter district to be more than 50 percent black.

“I told him I actually laughed and said there is nobody in the African-American community that’s going to believe that you’re doing this because it’s in the black communities interest,” said Rep. Mel Watt.

The testimony is part of a lawsuit being heard on how the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the district maps. State attorneys say the maps are lawful and maintain equal representation. Mansfield, no longer in office after losing in last year’s lieutenant governor’s race, said having a large minority voting district isn’t necessary.

“We should recognize race. Races are different and we should applaud that. But our goal is to be not a post-racist society where your race gives you an advantage or disadvantage,” said Mansfield.

A decision that will be up to a three judge panel as they continue to hear testimony in the case.

Rucho was in the courtroom for the morning session but did not return to court after the lunch break. Testimony will resume on Wednesday.

– Andy Mattison

NC redistricting maps subject of 2-day trial

RALEIGH (AP) — Issues of race while drawing North Carolina’s current legislative and congressional districts will be front and center in a brief trial involving pending redistricting litigation.

A three-judge panel planned to hear testimony and arguments for two days starting Tuesday in Raleigh.

The Superior Court judges heard arguments in February on motions to dismiss the lawsuits filed by Democratic voters and advocacy groups and other motions to declare the maps unconstitutional.

The judges haven’t ruled on the motions, but said later they wanted another hearing on two issues.

One is whether Republican mapmakers were justified in 2011 to draw majority-black districts to remedy what they call racially polarized voting to avoid federal voting rights challenges. The judges also want to examine whether race was the predominant factor in forming six districts.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Capital Tonight Feb. 26: Fmr. judges Eddie Greene, Bob Orr on redistricting case

On Capital Tonight: Redistricting took center stage again in Raleigh, as a three-judge panel heard a second day of arguments. Former judges Eddie Greene and Bob Orr analyze the legal arguments around the case, plus our Insiders Ballard Everette and Perry Woods talk the politics surrounding the automatic budget cuts, also known as sequestration.
Watch the full episode here.

Redistricting hearings enter second day

RALEIGH — The second day of a two-day hearing is back underway in Raleigh over the state’s new redistricting maps

Judges are hearing arguments from attorneys that will determine maps will be upheld or thrown out.

A panel of three judges spent Monday hearing from the plaintiffs who represent the Democrats, civil rights and election advocacy groups challenging those map, claiming they favor Republicans.

It was the defense’s turn to present their case before the judges on Tuesday.

Read more from reporter Julie Fertig here.

Three-judge panel begins redistricting hearings

RALEIGH — North Carolina voters used the state’s new congressional, House and Senate redistrict maps for the first time in the 2012 election.

But Democrats and other groups have challenged those maps. Three judges began hearing arguments Monday that will determine whether the maps will be upheld for future elections or thrown out.

During the next two days, attorneys representing the state and attorneys representing Democrats and advocacy groups will present their cases to a panel of three judges.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs began presenting their case first, saying the maps are unconstitutional.

Read more from reporter Julie Fertig here.