Reaction to High Court’s Cong. District RulingBy Cash Michaels , Peacemaker Contributor / May 30, 2017
“Once again with this victory the courts have said the N.C. General Assembly through apartheid type redistricting engaged in systemic racism and cheated to win elections.”
– Rev. William Barber, Outgoing president of the N.C. NAACP
Now that the US Supreme Court has ruled that North Carolina’s 2011 congressional redistricting maps for the First and Twelfth districts were unconstitutional because more Black voters from surrounding districts were added unnecessarily, does this hint that an upcoming High Court ruling on the state’s 2011 legislative maps is most likely to be seen the same way?
And when will the 2011 congressional maps be redrawn by the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly? Democrats and civil rights activists are certainly hopeful.
“Since 2010, North Carolina has been governed by an illegally constituted General Assembly,” says law professor Irving Joyner of the North Carolina Central University School of Law. “In its decision, the Supreme Court recognized that this “right-wing” and power driven legislature had manipulated political districts in order to erode the impact that African American voters could have on the use of political power in this state. In these redistricting plans, race was used to “stack and pack” African Americans into a few political districts and to reduce the ability of racial minorities to impact elections in majority White populated districts.”
The Supreme Court’s May 15 decision not to overturn a lower court’s July 2016 decision striking down North Carolina’s controversial 2013 voter ID law, certainly put smiles on the faces of the N.C. NAACP and others who challenged the measure because it targeted the African American vote “with surgical precision.”
“Once again with this victory the courts have said the N.C. General Assembly through apartheid type redistricting engaged in systemic racism and cheated to win elections,” said Rev. William Barber, outgoing president of the N.C. NAACP. “Over and over again our unconstitutionally constituted General Assembly is being proven to be the antithesis of justice, true democracy and the fundamental principles of equality.”
With last Monday’s congressional redistricting victory still echoing in their circles, supporters are eagerly anticipating a favorable legislative redistricting decision next week. But for now, this week’s High Court congressional redistricting triumph was both satisfying, and inspiring.
“This should serve as a wakeup call to the Republican-led General Assembly, whose voter suppression tactics have been struck down twice in federal court, in as many weeks,” said Black Democrat Rep. Alma Adams, whose 12th Congressional District was ruled unconstitutional because GOP state lawmakers “stacked-and-packed” it to be minority-majority for electoral advantage.
“As elected officials, we should be working together to make access to the ballot box easier and more fair. In Congress we must take swift action to restore the Voting Rights Act.”
“In North Carolina, it is time to appoint an independent redistricting commission to return our democracy to the will of the people,” Rep. Adams concluded.
Congressman G. K. Butterfield, the other North Carolina Black Democrat whose First Congressional District the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled was racially gerrymandered, also applauded the decision, saying that the GOP redistricting “…was an extreme case of racial gerrymandering.”
Robin Hayes, chairman of the N.C. Republican Party, disagreed with the Supreme Court decision, saying in part, “Our position continues to be the same as the Obama Justice Dept. on this issue, which pre-cleared these districts as fair and legal. I don’t know how any legislature can perform this task when the rules change constantly from case to case, often after the fact.”
Guilford County Republican congressional representative, Mark Walker (R-NC-6), unlike the rest of the GOP, stayed positive.
“[Monday’s] Supreme Court decision allows me to continue my commitment to stand for conservative, North Carolina values on behalf of Sixth District voters. The opportunity to take our message of effective conservatism and economic prosperity to new communities in Alamance, Chatham, Guilford, Lee and Randolph Counties has been one of the highest honors of my life. I will continue to strive everyday to deliver on the faith the voters of North Carolina have placed in me and work to serve our families and restore the American Dream.”
But NCCU law professor Irving Joyner, who also chairs the N.C. NAACP Legal Redress Committee, warns that the Republican-led legislature will soon try again to undermine basic voting rights.
“This latest decision from the U.S. Supreme Court affirms the many litigation efforts and demonstrations organized by the N.C. NAACP which have been designed to protect the voting rights of African Americans and other racial minorities,” Joyner said. “Despite this decision, we can expect the legislative leaders to concoct some other race-based districting design instead of sitting down to draw political districts which are fair and non-political.”