GREENSBORO – The three judge judicial panel handling the ongoing federal case against Republican drawn state legislative maps stated Thursday, after arguments concluded, the matter would be taken “under advisement.” A final ruling on the re-drawn district lines could come as early as next week.
Though the judicial panel expressed that it has not yet decided for either party in the case, they did take the anticipatory step of asking the plaintiff and defense to confer and present three potential candidates for a “Special Master” by next Wednesday. A Special Master is an independent mapmaker that would be appointed should the court rule against Republican majority leadership and nullify the latest redistricting effort.
The judges, two appointed by President Barack Obama and one by President George W. Bush, are tasked with determining if Republicans did enough to remedy what this same panel determined last year were unconstitutional ‘racial gerrymanders’ in 28 districts.
Lawyers for the General Assembly have argued that, by removing race altogether from redistricting criteria, they have complied with the court’s original orders. Among the plaintiff’s arguments is that ‘Incumbent Protection’ as a criteria serves as a proxy for race.
If the maps are thrown out, and a Special Master assigned, new maps must be pulled together in time for primary elections in early 2018. The panel has indicated an interest in insuring candidates have enough time to launch, staff, and fund campaigns for such elections.
Many Democrats will apparently contest ANY maps drawn by Republicans, so long as they can spin the redistricting process as a sinister plan to defraud minority voters. Some Democratic state lawmakers even go so far as to throw the maps out for being ‘Partisan Gerrymanders.’ While a case from Wisconsin is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court on this subject, it is not illegal – or uncommon – for legislative majorities to seek some partisan advantage via redistricting.
For decades, Democrats in control of North Carolina’s branches of government did just that. Roy Cooper himself is on record arguing in defense of drawing for such partisan advantages. What has changed, obviously, is that voters elected Republicans to majorities in the Old North State not seen in nearly 150 years. The first wave elections that swept Republicans to power were held under maps drawn by Democrats.
After years of successfully demonstrating the superiority of Republican policies, specifically when it comes to prosperity and freedom, the Democrats’ only recourse is to attack with lawsuits designed to impede further progress and smear Republicans as racists.