Two years ago, a panel of federal judges handed the constitution, democracy and the people an important victory, ruling that partisan, racial gerrymandering enacted by North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature violates the constitution. In response, Republican legislative leaders designed a new set of districts that they said would ignore race entirely. Well and good, but do we trust them to do what they said they would do? About as much as we trust our president to tell the truth.
No, they made no secret of their intentions, freely boasting that they would design a new gerrymander that would benefit Republicans at the expense of Democrats, Libertarians and unaffiliated voters. “We want to make clear that we … are going to use political data in drawing this map. It is to gain partisan advantage on the map,” Republican Rep. David Lewis said in 2016, according to a report in the News & Observer (N&O).
Lewis could feel comfortable saying this so openly because the courts, while having said that gerrymandering is unconstitutional, hadn’t made any ruling against gerrymandering based on voter’s party affiliations. That is, until last Tuesday, when a court ruled, in the case of Common Cause v. Rucho, that partisan gerrymandering – like racial gerrymandering – is unconstitutional. This decision, said the N&O,” slams shut the last shadowy refuge of politicians looking to shield themselves from accountability by manipulating our voting maps.”
Judge James Lynn called the GOP’s plan an abuse of power, pointing out that it “violates the core principle of republican government,” which is that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around, the N&O reported.
A couple of principled Republican lawmakers — yes, there are a few — filed a bill last year that would take redistricting out of the hands of legislators and instead entrust it to an independent group that would draw voting maps free of partisan politics. You can guess how far that went. Despite dozens of bipartisan co-sponsors and the support of an overwhelming majority of North Carolina residents, legislative leaders have refused to vote on the bill.
We elected these unprincipled legislators to represent all of us, which they fail spectacularly to do. We can be thankful for judges who care about the constitution and the precious right of all of us to vote without partisan impediment. So, let’s vote these fools out of office. We owe it to all of our neighbors.