By John Peters
July 9, 2013
A three-judge panel on Monday rejected a challenge to the legislative and congressional districts drawn up by the Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2011.
That challenge, from a conglomeration of Democrats, civil rights groups, and other organizations friendly to their causes, sought to have the new districts ruled unconstitutional, arguing that some were sprawling districts which included communities with little in common, even splitting counties between districts, while packing black voters inside artificially drawn boundaries to ensure a majority of minority voters in those districts.
The court ruled that, while the districts were clearly drawn up to favor the GOP and hurt the Democratic party, there was nothing unconstitutional about the new lines.
“Redistricting in North Carolina is an inherently political and intensely partisan process that results in political winners and, of course, political losers,” the court stated in its 171-page decision. “The political party controlling the General Assembly hopes, through redistricting legislation, to apportion the citizens of North Carolina in a manner that will secure the prevailing party’s political gain for at least another decade.”
The GOP appears to have done a good job with that, taking nine of 13 U.S. House seats in the redrawn congressional districts in 2012 (compared to six of 13 in the prior election), while padding their advantages in the state House and Senate.
The court is correct — political gerrymandering is as old as party politics, and the GOP suffered through more than a century of the Democratic Party doing the same thing, so it is hard to have sympathy for the Democratic party and those who benefit from the Democrat’s practice of doing this very thing.
Now, however, the GOP has had a chance to exact a little revenge and set itself up to be assured of holding a majority in both houses of the General Assembly for a good, long time. With that out of the way, we hope the GOP will show a little more leadership in this issue than the Democrats were ever willing to do and appoint a bi-partisan committee to handle the next redistricting after the 2020 census.
It’s nice, we suppose, for a political party to stack the deck in a way that ensures it remains in power, but in the end it’s the voters who pay the price with ineffective representation in both Raleigh and Washington.