A three-judge panel ordered North Carolina on Tuesday to redraw its congressional district map because it unconstitutionally gives Republican candidates an advantage, NPR reported. That means the state’s Republican-led legislature must give Democrats a fair chance to win elections. It also represents another rebuke of the state’s attempt to weaken the strength of the Black vote.
“Today’s ruling is a major victory for North Carolina and people across the state whose voices were silenced by Republicans’ unconstitutional attempts to rig the system to their partisan advantage,” North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said.
The federal judges gave North Carolina a deadline of Jan. 29 to correct the gerrymandered map, which created unusually drawn voting districts that make it easy for Republican candidates to win elections. Lawmakers packed conservative-leaning communities into the districts they created to favor Republican candidates. In other cases, they drew lines to separate communities that tend to vote for Democrats. Republican lawmakers were “motivated by invidious partisan intent” the judges said in a strong rebuke. The deadline is critical because candidates for November congressional elections have until Feb. 12 to file.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been a vocal opponent of North Carolina’s congressional map, saying that “citizens should be able to pick their representatives” instead of the other way around. The map “fails that basic test of democracy,” Holder said, adding that “it’s time for the legislature to produce fair maps that represent North Carolina’s diverse communities.”
North Carolina’s Republicans, however, don’t intend to walk away from this fight. They’ve vowed to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a separate case, the high court ruled in May that North Carolina had created a racially gerrymandered congressional district map in 2011 that diluted the African-American vote. That map was meant to silence the voice of Black voters.