The US Supreme Court on Friday refused to issue a stay in a lower court ruling that directed North Carolina lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional districts due to racial gerrymandering.
The following is a statement from Jane Pinsky, director of the nonpartisan NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, in response to the Supreme Court allowing the lower court ruling to remain.
“For many years, Democrats drew congressional boundaries in North Carolina that produced chaotic court fights. Now, it’s Republican versions that cannot survive court reviews.
“We are saddened by this process, which puts raw politics over the people. We promise to redouble our efforts to bring about methods for deciding political boundaries that are fair, impartial and can restore confidence in our state’s elections.
“We ask lawmakers of both parties to join us in developing a bipartisan solution.”
The School of Public & International Affairs at NC State University presents a look at how dramatically changing demographics in North Carolina could affect political gerrymandering. The presentation was part of the 2015 Abe Holtzman Public Policy Forum.
After living most of my life in Florida–a state with enough retrogression problems of its own–I am still struck by the comparative powerlessness of the people of North Carolina. Down in Florida, as you surely have noticed, the people approved a pair of initiatives to forbid gerrymandering in Congressional and legislative redistricting. Wonder of wonders, the Florida Supreme Court put teeth into those amendments last week, tossing eight Congressional districts, and is likely to do the same with state Senate districts in subsequent litigation. The points are that the people had the power of initiative and used it to good effect, and the Supreme Court itself is insulated from politics by having a merit selection and retention system. (That isn’t going to last because of Jeb Bush’s changes to merit selection, but that’s another story.) Florida also has home rule, so the Legislature could never do what ours in NC just did.
The people of North Carolina need a reform crusade: initiative, recall, and home rule. The more dramatic we make it, the more likely it will help elect sympathetic legislators. The question: How do we get there?
The Fayetteville Observer on Thursday offers a clear call for redistricting reform in North Carolina after this week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s independent commission.
The editorial rightly notes the unfortunately truth that “lawsuits against redistricting are a North Carolina tradition” and “redistricting has always been done for political advantage, no matter which party was in charge.”
“That’s why 63 members of the N.C. House have endorsed an initiative to move redistricting out of the General Assembly and give it to a nonpartisan commission,” according to the Fayetteville Observer. “The supporters are bipartisan, joined by former Govs. Jim Hunt, a Democrat, and Jim Martin, a Republican. Rep. Paul Stam, the Republican House speaker pro tem, has led efforts for the commission in the House.”
We hope lawmakers will heed the call of the Fayetteville Observer editorial board, along with so many others in North Carolina supporting common-sense redistricting reform, and help us end gerrymandering in our state.
On Wednesday, the Diane Rehm Show examined redistricting reform in the wake of this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Arizona’s independent commission. Jane Pinsky from the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform called in to share efforts for reform here in North Carolina. Listen:
Monday, June 29th, the US Supreme Court upheld the right of Arizonans to use a citizens’ initiative to draw Congressional districts and reduce gerrymandering. This is good news for the people of Arizona but doesn’t help North Carolinians end gerrymandering in North Carolina.
Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, who with former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker is a leader of the campaign to change how North Carolina does redistricting said “The decision is good news because it reinforces the importance of citizens in the redistricting process. North Carolinians need to keep working to make a change our system. ”
North Carolinians do not have a voice in redistricting. For more than four decades, election maps have been drawn by the party in power, behind closed doors to keep themselves in power. Districts are drawn to favor candidates from the majority party and not to reflect the population of the State
“It is time for the North Carolina General Assembly to respect the views of 70% of North Carolinians and give North Carolina a fair and impartial redistricting process,” state Charles Meeker, former Mayor of Raleigh.
Joining Mayors Meeker and Vinroot in calling for change are former Governors Hunt and Martin, 63 members of the NC house, and 215 municipal leaders across the state.