GREENSBORO – Republican legislative leaders have told the court that they reject the Special Master’s proposed draft maps and asked that 2018 elections be held using current districts until and unless an actual court ruling is made deeming the 2017 redraw unconstitutional.
The Special Master was required by the judicial panel to submit map drafts for nine districts in question by December 1. Those drafts were provided last week, with the plaintiffs finding the maps acceptable and the defending parties balking at the proposed drafts.
Republican leadership does not feel compelled to agree because, as with maps they first approved in 2011, the three-judge panel hasn’t yet formally struck down specific districts that lawmakers remade in 2017.
Instead, the judges asked left-leaning Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily to come up with proposed changes for review before they issue a final ruling.
Does that make sense? Doesn’t seem like it, and attorneys for legislative leadership weren’t having it.
“Judges do not issue provisional sentences before a defendant is found guilty,” wrote Phil Strach, attorney for the lawmakers. “Juries do not make provisional damages awards before adjudicating liability; and courts do not craft provisional remedies before finding a constitutional violation.”
Even if the judges do strike down boundaries, Strach said, the GOP-controlled legislature should first be given another chance to fix the problems. The court has indicated that is not an option.
Filing deadlines for 2018 elections are in February.
Strach wrote that the judges and Persily lack jurisdiction to consider the state constitutional claim and that Persily is improperly engaged in “racial sorting” by redrawing districts so their black voting-age populations are reduced.
In contrast, Republican majorities said they used no racial data in forming their latest statewide maps, an effort to eliminate any chances for racial gerrymandering.
The process under which the special master is working “defies precedent, ignores state sovereignty, and imposes race-based redistricting on the state against its will,” Strach wrote.
Persily’s new districts also put pairs of lawmakers together in the same district several times, meaning they’d have to run against each other to return to the General Assembly in 2019. The judges have said Persily can make some adjustments to reduce the “double-bunking” of incumbents.
Is it any wonder that an ‘Independent Special Master’ has produced maps that Democrats love and the Republicans find problematic? Persily is not independent, or detached, as no one can truly be impartial.
That’s why map drawing responsibilities rest with the legislature, where the voters’ will is expressed in redistricting and voters can hold politicians accountable every two years.
Democrats will complain that voters are disenfranchised by Republican maps, rigging the game in their favor. How is it then that Republicans obtained such majorities in 2010 under maps drawn by Democrats?
Gerrymandering is not ideal -rarely is anything in politics – but the entire court challenge to redistricting efforts was always born of the Left’s inability to win elections, not a genuine desire to have a better process. If it were, Democrats would have instituted that process long ago when they had majorities for decades.
No word on when an actual court ruling may be issued by the three-judge panel, but the calendar isn’t waiting and Republicans may appeal any adverse ruling dragging litigation well past the point of filing deadlines.