Federal Judges Order Independent Review of Legislative Districts

GREENSBORO – The judicial panel weighing whether or not redrawn legislative districts, passed just months ago to remedy what courts found to be illegal gerrymandering in 2011 district maps, has ordered an independent review of the maps by a ‘special master.’

A Stanford University law professor with previous experience as a special master will be hired by the judges to evaluate nine districts and possibly redraw them.

Of the more than two dozen districts that were originally ruled unconstitutional due to what the court deemed was racial gerrymandering, the jurists find nine of the redrawn districts still to be “legally unacceptable.”

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The concerns may stem from unresolved racial gerrymanders, or other violations.

A correlated court case related to the redrawn districts looking into the question of whether partisan gerrymanders should be tolerated is also in motion. Partisan gerrymanders are not presently illegal, but North Carolina Democratic lawmakers in particular have pointed to the practice as unfair.

The same concerns were of course never voiced when Democrats were drawing the maps. Now that Republicans have commanding majorities and draw maps to reflect their mandate, Democrats cry foul.

And that’s the thing – map drawing has long been understood to be a perk of holding majorities. Popularly elected representatives are extensions of the voters that put them there in the first place, and refining districts in a growing and dynamic state like North Carolina as a way of projecting that partisan advantage comes with the territory.

Democrats may counter that the current ‘Republican majorities are illegal because they were elected on illegal maps!,’ but they conveniently forget that the first wave of voters that swept Republicans into power in 2010 was an election held with maps drawn by Democrats.

The special master will have to evaluate the nine districts in question expediently; 2018 is just around the corner and Republicans will likely appeal any redraw to the Supreme Court.

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