By John Peters
January 30, 2014
Three years after the North Carolina General Assembly approved new legislative districts — an event that happens every decade after the U.S. Census completes its decennial population count — the fight over those districts continues as some Democrats and civil rights groups have challenged the redrawn districts in court.
Late last week the State Supreme Court rejected a request by those groups to delay this year’s legislative elections, a wise and proper decision.
This case has wound its way through the court system over the past three years, and at every stop the courts have decided in favor of the districts as they are drawn. This year will be the second round of General Assembly elections since the districts were redrawn, and it seems far too late in the game for the court to seriously reconsider those boundaries.
Quite frankly some of the redrawn districts make no sense. They are artificially created in a manner that helps ensure the Republican Party retains power in both the state legislature and in its delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. These districts have rural areas lumped in with urban, people whose interests are widely divergent.
But there’s nothing illegal or unconstitutional about the manner in which they are drawn. As we’ve said here on many occasions, being able to redraw district lines are among the spoils of victory. For more than a century the Democratic Party has enjoyed this privilege, with its long-standing control of both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. Now that the GOP is in control, suddenly the Democrats do not seem to like the rules of the game.
To that we say too bad. Learn to live with it, for now.
We also believe now is the time to start working on new proposals for how these districts will be redrawn after the 2020 Census. Hopefully North Carolina will join a growing number of states which allows an independent, non-partisan, state-appointed committee to reconfigure their districts.
In those cases, districts are generally redrawn to align people with others who are geographically close and who share cultural and business interests.
Doing so would not necessarily best-serve the political parties, but this would best serve the residents of North Carolina. Oftentimes it seems those running the state government forget the residents, but in the end, isn’t government supposed to be about them?