You may remember back in early December we made a stab at explaining how the redistricting process might unfold. Unfortunately, it looks like that’s where it’s heading.
Because of the NC Supreme Court’s ruling last week that NC’s legislative drawn maps were unconstitutional, lawmakers are being forced to redraw the new maps that lay out NC’s legislative and Congressional district lines for this decade’s elections.
The NC General Assembly has until Feb. 18 – only two weeks – to submit new maps to a panel of three judges in Wake County Superior Court. At that point, the lower court has until Feb. 23 to approve the new maps. If the state Supreme Court still doesn’t approve the maps (which they are highly likely not to), then they’ll go through the process of drawing the maps themselves through an independent redistricting expert known as a “special master.”
SPECIAL MASTER. Since it has looked as expected like the state Supreme Court from the beginning of this process has inclined to bypass it’s impartiality in favor of pure partisanship, you may wonder why they don’t just bypass all the sham rulings and have their “special master” go ahead and draw the districts they’ll accept – that would lean left.
It’s all about looks, aesthetics and timing. 1) They want to look like they’re trying to be fair – though with all the left-leaning political appointees on the Court – that’s hard to say with a straight face. 2) They want to at least act like they have respect for our state constitution – which calls for the legislature to conduct redistricting. But the state Supreme Court’sactions this winter have side-stepped the state constitution and leaned to judicial solutions, not legislative.
NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby asserted that “by giving the court political powers that only the state legislature or voters could exercise, he wrote, the majority on the court ‘tosses judicial restraint aside, seizing this opportunity to advance its agenda’.”
Now the liberal Court majority has asked the General Assembly for new maps – but has given little guidance on what their concerns are and how to make them work. No surprise there either because the Court is playing a “Four Corners” stall game to force every decision to the last minute and push as far away as possible appeals to higher courts and things they can’t control.
Yesterday, legislative leaders were considering the options surrounding going for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. And as we’ve explained before, that’s the one thing that has changed in the last couple of years that makes the redistricting picture different for North Carolina. Since the Obama surge to fill federal appeals courts with liberal judges in the 2010s, hopes for fairness on redistricting cases have fallen sharply.
But with the new majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, you would think there might ultimately be hope.
Here’s the interesting thing. The new conservative-leaning federal Court has said it wants states to do their best to conduct redistricting and work things out at the state level. So you would think they would try to put more structure into how states should approach redistricting.
Late yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court put an Alabama redistricting case on its docket that seems similar to NC’s predicament. Check it out.
We had thought any U.S. Supreme Court appeal would probably not come until after this year’s elections. But this Alabama case may open a door for an earlier decision.
So stay tuned. But don’t get excited. More twists and turns are surely on the way. It’s politics.
And just so you remember how extreme partisan gerrymandering really looks – here’s the map drawn by liberal-led General Assembly in the 1980s of the 12th Congressional District – the I-85 District.