League of Women Voters of North Carolina Welcomes Historic Decision in Common Cause v. Lewis
September 4, 2019
Raleigh, NC — The League of Women Voters of North Carolina (LWVNC) welcomes the Wake Superior Court’s historic September 3 ruling that extreme partisan gerrymandering violates the North Carolina Constitution. The court’s decision found that the state legislative maps — redrawn in 2017 as the result of a challenge in federal court — were “designed intentionally and effectively to maximize Republican partisan advantage on a statewide basis.”
The court declared the maps unconstitutional on three separate grounds: that they violate the North Carolina Constitution’s free elections clause, the equal protections clause, and both the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly clauses in our state’s bill of rights.
“The Superior Court ruling confirms that carrying partisan considerations to extremes threatens our democracy,” said LWVNC President Jo Nicholas. “We’re especially pleased that the court has ordered the legislature to draw the maps in public, rather than behind closed doors. By specifying clear and reasonable criteria and barring use of previous election results that can predict voter behavior, the court has mandated the type of open, fair, and transparent process that the League has long advocated.”
The League recognizes that the court’s decision comes at a crucial time, with the next statewide redrawing set to start right after the 2020 Census data comes down in early 2021. “We expect the ruling and subsequent redrawing to give a boost to our state’s urgently needed redistricting reform,” Nicholas said. “The court-specified process should create a map with fewer safe districts for either of the two main parties and more districts where voters can make their voices heard.”
The ruling clearly underscores the need for the legislature to adopt a better process for drawing the maps. The League urges the legislature to take up the many draft bills before it and to put in place a truly fair and open process for the 2021 redrawing.
The League calls on its 2000 members across the state, many of them living in districts to be redrawn, and on all North Carolinian voters to keep a close eye on the coming redrawing and to become as engaged as possible, despite the short timeframe. Our court has given voters a priceless seat at the redistricting table. “The League will take full advantage of this opportunity to make sure that voters’ voices are heard in Raleigh,” Nicholas said.
About LWVNC: The purpose of the League of Women Voters is to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation in government at all levels. Read more about our work: www.lwvnc.org