Jan 10, 2018

U.S. Fed Court Strikes GOP NC Gerrymandering; Opinion Bolds Well for Wisconsin Case at SCOTUS

A three-judge U.S. District Court panel struck down today the Republican-drawn gerrymandering map in North Carolina as unconstitutional.

Pro-voting rights advocates applauded the decision.

Anti-democracy forces of the Republican Party working for a One Party county say in reaction to the decision that because federal courts had not ruled previously to stop partisan gerrymandering, they should not rule so now, (The News and Observer).

Republicans reject social scientific evidence and constitutional reasoning in gerrymandering cases including this North Carolina case, Common Cause, et al v. Robert A. Rucho, and League of Women Voters, et al. v. Robert A. Rucho.

Wisconsin advocates of constitutional rights have cause to applaud the decision as they await the ruling of Gill v. Whitford at the United States Supreme Court.

The Republican gerrymandering effort is part of its larger anti-democratic project pursued against American citizens.
From Nicholas Stephanopoulos in the Election Law Blog:

[T]he [North Carolina] court properly distinguished between the legal standard itself (the above three-part test) and quantitative evidence that is used to prove violations of the standard. This distinction eluded the defendants both here and in Whitford, who persistently conflated social science metrics with the underlying constitutional command. The court, though, observed that "plaintiffs do not seek to constitutionalize any of the empirical analyses they have put forward," adding that "these analyses provide evidence that the 2016 Plan violates a number of well-established constitutional standards." The court further criticized the defendants for their "cynical" view that analysis should be discarded if it has "its genesis in academic research." "It makes no practical or legal sense for courts to close their eyes to new scientific or statistical methods." "The Constitution does not require the federal courts to act like Galileo’s Inquisition and enjoin consideration of new academic theories."

[T]he court clearly understood the core harm of partisan gerrymandering: that it entrenches the gerrymandering party in office, awarding it more legislative power than it deserves given its actual appeal to the electorate. The court repeatedly defined gerrymandering as "the drawing of legislative district lines to subordinate adherents of one political party and entrench a rival party in power." The court also observed that gerrymandering "constitutes a structural [constitutional] violation because it insulates Representatives from having to respond to the popular will." And warming the heart of constitutional law professors everywhere, the court twice cited John Hart Ely, the progenitor of the argument that judicial intervention is most necessary (and most appropriate in a democracy) when there has been a malfunction of the political process. Gerrymandering, of course, is the quintessential political malfunction.

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