When a North Carolina court struck down the state’s legislative gerrymander on Sept. 3, it gave the General Assembly two weeks to draw new maps uninfected by partisanship. Republican lawmakers decided not to appeal that decision to the liberal North Carolina Supreme Court. Instead, they appear determined to violate the court’s order and produce tainted maps that dilute Democratic votes. It’s a scheme that will clearly anger the court. That may be the point.
In directing the General Assembly to redraw North Carolina’s house and senate districts, the court laid down a few rules. It declared that “all map drawing [must] occur at public hearings,” a requirement meant to prevent Republicans from covertly manipulating district lines for partisan gain.
Legislators must produce districts with equal population, contiguity, and compactness, taking care not to unduly carve up precincts and cities. Notably, legislators are strictly prohibited from using “[p]artisan considerations and election results data.” The court also announced that it would appoint a “referee” to assist “in reviewing any Remedial Maps enacted by the General Assembly”—and to “develop remedial maps” if the General Assembly fails its task.
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