REDISTRICTING – THE “I-85 DISTRICT”

August 12, 2021
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The redistricting process in North Carolina gets in high gear today as the U.S. Census Bureau finally releases its local population data which will show population changes in the state over the last decade that should produce a new Congressional seat for some of our citizens.

As we get ready for the coming ride, we’re going to take a trip down our state’s memory lane of redistricting back to the 1990s.

For years, redistricting has been a political football with the expected jockeying back and forth over committee drawn maps.  This year will probably be the same. Political zingers will be tossed back and forth and we’ll probably see lawsuits brought to contest whatever plan is decided on.  The liberals are already grandstanding, threatening to go on the attack over “gerrymandering” they expect from North Carolina’s majority legislative leadership.

Eric Holder – President Obama’s Attorney General – chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) which bankrolls lawsuits that challenge redistricting decisions.  Liberals learned long ago that when they can’t win at the ballot box, their next best chance is in the courts.  And their bottomless pit of money sources helps them keep an almost perpetual of redistricting cases in the courts.

NDRC President Kelly Ward Burton said the NRDC was focused on North Carolina and that “if and when they gerrymander, which we expect them to, we will be ready to sue them,’ she said. ‘We will use all of the legal tools at our disposal, which is everything from federal litigation to state-based litigation based on state law’.”

What you need to remember when you hear all the accusations and barbs from Left-of-center voting rights advocates and civil rights groups over how awful and unfair those conservatives are who currently lead the NC General Assembly, was how it was when they were in charge.

Go back to the early 90’s – when the Left ruled the legislature and look at how fair they were back then.

THE I-85 DISTRICT

After the 1990 census, the General Assembly came up with the new 12th District – the infamous “I-85 District.”  It became well-known for snaking through central North Carolina down I-85 and reaching out to include predominately Black voters as it narrowly traveled down that corridor from Durham to Charlotte.  It was often quoted that one NC legislator said, “if you drove down the interstate with both car doors open, you’d kill most people in the district.”  It was a major example cited in the U.S. Supreme Court case Shaw vs. Reno which ended up allowing changes in the racial make-up of redistricting.

Writing for the majority in that court decision, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “’Racial gerrymandering, even for remedial purposes, may Balkanize us into competing racial factions,’ she said. ‘It threatens to carry us further from the goal of a political system in which race no longer matters’.”  She described District 12 as “a snake which is 160 miles long” and stated:

“We believe that reapportionment is one area in which appearances do matter. A reapportionment plan that includes in one district individuals who belong to the same race, but who are otherwise widely separated by geographical and political boundaries, and who may have little in common with one another but the color of their skin, bears an uncomfortable resemblance to political apartheid.”

If you look at the entire statewide map below – you’ll see the 12th District (in yellow) was not the only egregious example.  The First and Third Districts weren’t much better.

When we hear those on the Left getting all sanctimonious implying that they behaved differently when they had power and that the new leadership is somehow unfair compared to their leadership style in past decades — pull these maps up and help them remember.


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