NC governor and attorney general file amicus brief in redistricting cases

Photo courtesy NCDHHS

RALEIGH — Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and the state’s Attorney General, Democrat Josh Stein, have jointly filed an amicus brief related to two redistricting cases making their way through the courts.

The two cases are North Carolina League of Conservation Voters v. Hall and Harper v. Hall.

The amicus brief filed with the N.C. Supreme Court raises the idea of “partisan gerrymandering.”

Partisan gerrymandering was addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on in another North Carolina-based case, Rucho v. Common Cause. In the 2019 Rucho decision, the Supreme Court held that the concept of partisan gerrymandering claims presented political questions beyond the reach of federal courts.

“The trial court recognized what has been obvious all along, that the legislative and congressional maps were intentionally gerrymandered,” Cooper said in a press release. “That’s wrong and unconstitutional because it strips voters of their voice and power in our democracy.”

According to the press statement, the joint brief explains that, according to the North Carolina Constitution, “political power must be vested in and derived from the people” and that “our elected leaders flout that principle when they seek to perpetuate their power irrespective of the will of the voters.”

Additionally, the statement also says brief “urges the Court to ensure that any constitutional violations identified by the Court ‘are remedied swiftly and completely’.”

“Partisan gerrymandering distorts our democracy and violates our constitution. North Carolina’s constitution guarantees that people are sovereign and our elections are free,” said Stein in the release. “That’s why voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will return the power to the people by clarifying that our constitution prohibits partisan gerrymandering.”

Earlier this month on Jan. 11, a three-judge panel unanimously ruled to allow redistricting maps drawn by General Assembly to move forward. The panel rejected the plaintiff’s claims of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.

“Plaintiffs have failed to establish that the General Assembly failed to adhere to traditional districting principles on account of racial considerations,” the ruling said in part.

The three-judge panel ruling also noted that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate maps were drawn with “a predominant racial motive” through either circumstantial or direct evidence.