Editorial: GOP must accept federal court order, move on nonpartisan redistricting

Posted November 30, 2016

Re. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, left and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, debate changes to voting district maps during a Nov. 7, 2011, House session.

A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Nov.30, 2016; Editorial# 8088
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

While much of North Carolina’s political establishment is enmeshed in bickering over an election that happened three weeks ago, the next major task on the electoral horizon is a mere six weeks away.

Late Tuesday the U.S. federal court gave the General Assembly its first order of business when it convenes on Jan. 11, 2017. The court ordered the legislature, by March 15, 2017 to draw new state House and state Senate districts. The deadline, the court said, “will allow the Court enough time to consider whether the State has remedied its unconstitutional gerrymander and to act if it does not.”

Since 2012, the General Assembly has been conducting business and passing laws even though it does so as an unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislature. To continue in that fashion, any longer than absolutely necessary, is perpetuating the illegal scheme that the court correctly ordered changed.

The court has ordered the legislature to expedite its development of new, and constitutional,districts and to schedule new elections – a primary in late August or early September and a general election in early November. Every day this unconstitutionally composed legislature meets casts a cloud over the integrity of its actions.

While legislative leaders initial reaction to Tuesday’s court order was reflexively obstinate and defiant, we urge them to reconsider and start the process now of developing new representative districts. Past experience is convincing that further appeals will be unsuccessful, wasting time and taxpayer dollars.

Legislative leaders should move quickly to form a bipartisan study commission to come up with a plan for the development of new districts.

Critical to such a plan is the formation of a non-partisan commission that will develop the redistricting plan. The mandate for the commission should be simple: Create 120 state House and 50 state Senate districts that are geographically compact without ANY consideration of political party registration or voting history. The districts must be equal in population and comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

It may seem like a tall order, but as a nonpartisan panel of North Carolina judges proved earlier this year, it can be done in a business-like manner that will assure proper and full representation of all North Carolinians.

The federal court panel of Appeals Court Judge James Wynn with District Court judges Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder, was clear in its order and its direction. The leadership of the General Assembly has a simple choice.

  • It can get down to the business of assuring North Carolinians they will have proper and legal representatives passing their laws.


  • It can continue to play political games, be mired in fruitless, time-consuming and expensive court battles that only bring further distrust of our political institutions.

We urge legislators to choose the former. We cannot afford further delay on the truly important matters facing our state – improving our public education system, developing an economy that spreads opportunity throughout the state and assures a clean environment and high standard of living for all North Carolinians.

Action is now needed.


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  • Alfred Barnes Dec 2, 10:04 a.m.
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    Well, unfortunately for you, most of the left are centered in urban containment areas. Certainly, you're not suggesting we gerrymand the districts out from the center?!?

    Pick a non-partisan set of metrics based on geography and population. We can't make it fair to everyone, only less biased. We're not the only state facing this issue, what is the apolitical standard?

  • Alfred Barnes Dec 2, 9:57 a.m.
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    Of course, while the right has it's share of hypocrites, most reasonable thinking people would agree the last GA elections are a farce, but not to the level of throwing the results out. Let's fix the system, broken after 100 years of democrats in power.

  • Alfred Barnes Dec 2, 9:54 a.m.
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    Agreed, but not to throw out prior election results.

  • Brendan Dillon Nov 30, 12:46 p.m.
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    A proper bipartisan, non-gerrymandered map would make all seats competitive, including the Fourth District. The only reason the Fourth is so blue is because the GOP has packed Democrat-leaning voters into as few districts as possible.

  • Karen Grigg Nov 30, 12:08 p.m.
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    Sooo... for those people claiming this ruling is federal overreach, would you say the same if our current districts were gerrymandered by Democrats to ensure their own domination of the state? Gerrymandering is a practice that has been done by both parties. I, personally, don't want to win by cheating the system. The practice needs to be abolished, period. How can anyone justify it? We all should be invested, left and right, in ensuring that our elections are done fairly and carry forth the will of the people. Remember- Republicans are in control today, but if that changes, Democrats could do the same thing. We should all want gerrymandering abolished.

  • Pete Muller Nov 30, 11:44 a.m.
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    Well, it would be nice to restore democracy in NC. We are a purple state but have a legislative representation like Alabama, caused by by Republican gerrymandering.

  • Teddy Fowler Nov 30, 11:35 a.m.
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    "Must accept" ??? haha too funny.... maybe the left "Must accept" election results....

  • Alfred Barnes Nov 30, 9:49 a.m.
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    No doubt the federal judiciary hasn't gotten the memo that the people won the last election.

  • Paul Donovan Nov 30, 9:22 a.m.
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    No they don't. The federal judicial system has no say in this matter. The state needs to fight back to stop this judicial overreach.

  • Will Powers Nov 30, 9:19 a.m.
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    As usual, you substitute the term "non-partisan" for "favoring or controlled by Democrats". Th Fourth District is notoriously biased in favor of Democrats and liberal points of view. The redistricting was legally enacted by the NCGA, approved by the Obama Justice Dept., and twice upheld by the NC Supreme Court. I'm not sure how your "non-partisan" mantra can be considered anything other than political court shopping.