GREENSBORO – The Special Master assigned by a federal judicial panel to present new district lines for consideration in the ongoing legislative redistricting saga submitted his final drafts to the court on Friday.
After portions of districts drawn by Republican majorities in 2011 were deemed unconstitutional for purported racial gerrymandering, Republican majorities held special redistricting sessions in the late summer of 2017 to rectify the issues, but to no avail.
Plaintiffs in the suit, essentially representing political opposition to the current legislative super-majorities, again cried foul on the redraw.
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After hearing further arguments, a three-judge panel at a federal court in Greensboro, instead of issuing a direct ruling, assigned a Special Master to ‘independently’ redraw the districts that judges suspected were still not compliant with the original orders.
The allegedly independent Special Master assigned was a Stanford University professor whose background immediately gave Republican defendants heartburn. The contend that he is anything but impartial, and the final drafts submitted Friday seem to confirm their fears.
North Carolina House Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), chairmen of their respective chambers’ redistricting committees, responded Friday after a California professor revised his proposed legislative maps to incorporate most of the Democrat plaintiffs’ requested changes.
“Earlier this week, the (Raleigh) News & Observer analyzed the original maps drawn by the so-called ‘special master’ and reported those maps would already make it easier for Democrats to defeat Republican incumbents. By making many changes Democrats demanded, Mr. Persily has confirmed our worst suspicions: this entire ‘judicial process’ is little more than a thinly-veiled political operation where unelected judges, legislating from the bench, strip North Carolinians of their constitutional right to self-governance by appointing a left-wing California professor to draw districts handing Democrats control of legislative seats they couldn’t win at the ballot box.”
Legislative Republicans argue districts drawn and approved by the General Assembly should remain in place, and Nathaniel Persily’s involvement is unwarranted when there’s been no order or explanation from the court that anything is wrong with their maps.
If the court accepts Persily’s maps and orders elections upon the new district lines, we’ll know the fix was in from the beginning and Republicans are bound to appeal the decision. The appeals process could drag on to threaten current primary schedules, possibly forcing a rescheduling of those elections and shortening the general campaign season for 2018.
Democrats can’t win at the ballot box, so they pull out all stops to win court battles aided by jurists willing to overstep their constitutional bounds and suppress the voters’ will in the process.
Republican lawmakers called it ‘legislating from the bench.’ If Democrats are successful in court, the result may very well be ‘electing Democrats from the bench.’