Court Battles

North Carolina Supreme Court strikes down GOP-drawn maps as unconstitutional

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday struck down Republican-drawn legislative and congressional maps as unconstitutional and asked for new maps to be submitted by Feb. 18.

The state’s high court said in its ruling that the maps were unconstitutional “beyond a reasonable doubt under the free elections clause, the equal protection clause, the free speech clause, and the freedom of assembly clause of the North Carolina Constitution.”

The maps, which the GOP-controlled legislature approved in November, would create two new Republican-leaning districts and take away two previously Democratic-leaning districts. 

“Showing that a reapportionment plan makes it systematically more difficult for a voter to aggregate his or her vote with other likeminded voters” was enough to establish “the diminishment or dilution of a voter’s voting power on the basis of his or her views,” the court said in its ruling. 

The decision came on a 4-3 vote along partisan lines, with a Democratic majority ruling against the maps.

It was lauded by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the state’s Attorney General Josh Stein (D) on Twitter.

“A healthy democracy requires free elections and the NC Supreme Court is right to order a redraw of unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts. More work remains and any legislative redraw must reflect the full intent of this decision,” Cooper wrote on Twitter.

Stein said in a statement on Twitter that the maps violated “a voter’s fundamental right to vote.”

Our government “must be of, by, & for the people, not of, by, & for one political party. That’s why the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. Partisan gerrymandering is offensive to democracy; it’s also contrary to our fundamental constitutional rights,” he added.

The North Carolina Supreme Court in December delayed the state’s primary elections until May to give the legal challenges time to play out.

Updated at 7:31 p.m.

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