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LWVNC calls on voters to stand up for fair maps legislation

June 27, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 27, 2019

Media Contact: Jennifer Bremer 301-955-6333 bremer.jennifer@gmail.com

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LWV North Carolina calls on NC voters to stand up for fair maps legislation in wake of Supreme Court’s failure to curtail partisan gerrymandering

CHAPEL HILL – The League of Women Voters of North Carolina today called on the state’s voters and legislators to take action in North Carolina to end gerrymandering. In today’s ruling on Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to set a test enabling courts to determine when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far, finding that partisan gerrymandering is non-justiciable.

“Today’s decision is devastating to the voters in North Carolina who have lived with unconstitutional districts in the last four federal elections,” said Janet Hoy, outgoing co-president of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and a named plaintiff in the case. “While we were hopeful that the Court would set a standard to address extreme gerrymandering cases like ours, we will continue to work on getting fair maps for North Carolinians through action right here in North Carolina.”

The League and its partners will continue to push for legislative reform in time for the 2021 redrawing, to educate voters on the urgent need for such reform, and to support ongoing challenges to extreme gerrymandering in state courts, which are not affected by today’s ruling.

“We are disappointed with this outcome, but neither the League of Women Voters nor the Southern Coalition for Social Justice will be deterred in our fight for fair district maps,” said Allison Riggs, senior attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and co-counsel for the League, who argued the case before the Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision is a setback in the fight for fair maps around the country,” said Paul Smith, vice president at Campaign Legal Center, and counsel of record in Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina. “While we are disappointed that North Carolina voters will continue to vote in districts that were shown at trial to be severely biased, the fight is far from over. We must redouble our efforts outside the courtroom to put the voices of voters first. Independent citizen-led commissions, such as those passed in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah in 2018, have been highly successful in ensuring that district maps fairly represent the population. Reformers from other states should follow this lead and continue to fight back against gerrymandering.”

While some states are taking a proactive approach to gerrymandering with ballot measures, a wider solution could be achieved through Congressional action. The For the People Act, which would create fair redistricting standards for the entire country, has been adopted in the House and is currently before the Senate.

Several different redistricting reform bills have been introduced in the NC Legislature this term, but none of them has yet gotten a hearing. A Common Cause challenge to partisan gerrymandering under the NC Constitution, to be heard in NC Superior Court July 15, may also result in redrawn legislative districts in time for the 2020 election, spurring consideration of legislative reform to how districts are drawn.

“Even though is a very disappointing loss for us,” said incoming LWVNC president Jo Nicholas, “we have not given up the fight for our voters in NC. The League of Women Voters of North Carolina will continue to fight for fair redistricting in our state. We will keep moving onward and upward.”

“Today’s decision is a disappointment, and the court missed a crucial opportunity to strengthen our republic,” said Chris Carson, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “It means we have more work to do. The League won’t back down until we have nationwide fair maps that work for everyone.”

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Learn more about LWVNC FAIR DISTRICTS NC.