A three-judge state court panel determined on Monday evening that district maps drawn by Republican lawmakers in the state were deeply political — so much so that they could not be used in the 2020 elections.
The three judges — two Democrats and one Republican — technically imposed a temporary injunction on the maps, but made clear that their order could extend well-into next year, and required the district maps to be redrawn, including the boundaries of 13 federal House districts, The News and Observer reported.
New maps would need to be drawn up relatively quickly, before the March primaries next year. However, the court also indicated that the primaries could be delayed if maps aren’t redrawn in time.
The court’s opinion found that there was “extreme partisan gerrymandering” in the maps, “contrary to the fundamental right of North Carolina citizens to have elections conducted freely and honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the people.”
NC’s congressional map can’t be used in 2020 because it’s so severely gerrymandered, a panel of three state judges ruled. They said the gerrymandering, which benefits Republicans in the state, was so severe that it ran afoul of the state’s constitution. https://t.co/Wd0Vxpyo28
— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) October 29, 2019
Analyses of the maps — as well as the outcome of the last election in 2018 — demonstrated that Republicans were all-but assured of winning 10 of the state’s 13 House seats, with Democrats winning the remaining three. Statewide contests in North Carolina in recent years, however, have been much more narrowly split. Plaintiffs who brought the matter before the court alleged that the maps didn’t create a true representation of voters’ wishes from the state to the United States Congress.
A narrow 5-4 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court this past summer found that the question of political gerrymandering could not be brought about within federal courts, effectively tabling the idea within those courtrooms. However, the ruling did leave open the possibility for states to determine, within the framework of their own laws, whether partisan gerrymandering was a problem within their own jurisdictions, NPR reported.