Today a three-judge panel unanimously ruled that North Carolina’s state legislature was illegally gerrymandered. Those of you who have followed this story won’t be surprised: North Carolina’s redistricting history at both the local and congressional level is so egregious that it’s all but impossible to justify. The only unusual part of the whole thing is that the North Carolina GOP, which for years has been shamelessly defending itself against all odds, has given up. After the ruling was announced, they released a statement saying they wouldn’t appeal. Why? Rick Hasen provides a few possibilities:
- They know they will lose in the Democratic-dominated state supreme court, and there is no viable path to federal court review.
- They would rather NOT get a holding from the state Supreme Court (this was a three-judge trial court ruling), which would have greater precedential value.
- They hope they would have a better chance to have their “nonpartisan” map accepted by the Supreme Court if they throw in the towel (that is, they are trying to avoid a worse court-drawn map).
- They will use this ruling to run against the Supreme Court and try for a state constitutional amendment to give them the right to engage in partisan gerrymandering after the 2020 census.
Whatever the reason, it’s a sure bet that North Carolina Republicans haven’t really given up. They are simply hellbent on making sure that both blacks and Democrats never get representation equal to their numbers. Keep a close eye on this. It’s not over.