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NC lawyers want redistricting challenges dismissed

Posted January 12, 2012

— The legal fight over North Carolina's new boundaries for General Assembly and congressional districts returned to court Thursday as attorneys for the state attempted to persuade judges that challenges to the maps should be thrown out.

A three-judge panel held a 3½-hour hearing in Raleigh Thursday afternoon for arguments on the state's request to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed by dozens of Democratic elected officials, voters and advocacy groups.

They reached no decision, however, and scheduled another hearing for Jan. 20.

The lawsuits allege the maps are unlawful because they scoop up black voters into districts to reduce their overall political power and that boundaries cross too many county lines. The lawsuits' authors want judges to block the maps from being used in the 2012 elections.

Lawyers for the state and legislative leaders say the maps comply with state and federal law and rulings.

Alec Peters of the state Attorney General's Office said the groups challenging the maps "misunderstand and misapply" the law.

“There is no case that says a plaintiff has a right to an undivided precinct,” Peters told the judges. “They’re essentially arguing that (splitting precincts) is a bad idea.”

Thomas Farr, an attorney for Republican lawmakers, also dismissed the lawsuit’s legal merit.

“This case comes down to, ‘We don’t think these plans are fair.’ That’s not a basis for a constitutional violation,” Farr said.

In court documents filed Monday, critics of the maps asked the judges to delay the 2012 primary elections. The group says no election should be held under the new maps until judges decide if they are legal.

NAACP attorney Anita Earls called the voting maps a "racial gerrymander," saying they "turn the Voting Rights Act on its head."

Chairman of Joint Chiefs speaks at Duke Judges hear arguments in NC voting maps challenge

According to the lawsuit, the maps are flawed in three ways.

First, plaintiffs say, the new districts split more counties than is necessary, which they say is a violation of the state constitution as affirmed by a previous North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in a 2002 redistricting case.

Second, they split too many precincts. According to the lawsuit, the House map splits 395 voting precincts, containing almost 1.9 million people, which amounts to 19.5 percent of the state’s entire population. The Senate maps splits 257 precincts, containing more than 1.3 million people.

Thirty-six percent of black voters live in a split precinct, compared with 23 percent of white voters, Earls said.

“Those voters won’t even be able to tell what district they live in,” she said, citing “increased difficulty in participating in the political process.”

Alternative plans submitted by Democrats would have split 129 precincts in the House and six in the Senate.

Third, the lawsuit says, the new maps “pack” higher numbers of minority voters into some districts to reduce their influence in surrounding areas. According to the plaintiffs, more than half the state’s black voters are packed into just three of the state’s 13 congressional districts, 10 of the 50 Senate districts and 25 of the 120 House districts.

Republican mapmakers say the Voting Rights Act requires them to create “majority-minority” districts, where more than 50 percent of voters are minorities, wherever possible as a way to ensure minority voters can elect the candidate they choose. But Democrats say Republicans have twisted the intent of the law by adding minority voters to districts that already typically elect minority representation.

Most districts have at least two of the three problems above, the lawsuit contends.

The primary is scheduled to take place May 8, but some want it delayed until July 10 while judges sort out the legal issues.

54 Comments

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  • ajpettitt Jan 13, 3:23 p.m.

    Easy solve, take the last total census, divide the count of legal voting age us citizens by the number of seats available and then go to the NC MAP start with the east coast or the mountain west total each county (adjunct) until you reach the correct # of voting age citizens. that is a district. no politic involved. do this til are seat are filled. Most elementary match students could do the lines as fair as the powers currently deciding the lines.

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 13, 10:38 a.m.

    Why aren't more people up set about the waste of money (tax payers dollars) that is generated by these two parties battling for control and power. Something seriously wrong with this picture. Have the American people become a nation so self absorbed in the minute details of our lives, that we can't see what our goverment is doing? Have these "parties" already won? Every day you read about the abuse, the corruption, the inside trading, the flat stealing of money and then there the "lost" money going to corp. contractor inside the US as well as to goverments in other country. Look how large our goverment is, not only the Federal goverement, but states also. This is their way of living. They are not about to cut their own pay checks or benefits. That's why they pass laws to keep themselves in control, for more power and more money. Independant voters can take some of that control back, we can indirectly create term limits. We can have a voice and a choice.

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 13, 10:13 a.m.

    The only way for this to ever happen is through (1) a Treaty with the UN to give up our rights as a nation to be governed by ourself. (2)a second revolutionary war, you ready to take up arms against the government?

    Government will never vote for anything that lessen their power or limits their term in office so basically you are stuck with proceeding with option 2.
    shoutntime
    January 12, 2012 1:18 p.m.
    That may be your view, but I'll respectably disagree. Option two is the mine set of those who'll gain power. The idea is to reduce or take away the power. History has shown many time option two is never the answer. American can take back their goverment by registering as independant and not be part of a party base. This base is what the use to claim their power. They do not represent the majority of Americans. It'll take a while, but as independant take back their local goverments, state goverment, then they can take back Federal goverment. They can limit terms. It'll take a while

  • LambeauSouth Jan 13, 8:38 a.m.

    I always love the "Yeah they did it now it's our turn...blah, blah blah
    Turn about ...blagh blah blah
    really, this is your arguement
    wow the voter base for the right is getting younger and younger, surprised no one said "Owned"

  • vraptor Jan 12, 6:05 p.m.

    the feds have not said they are not ok. drop the case.

  • bombayrunner Jan 12, 5:42 p.m.

    too bad!! winner makes the rules like its been for 140 years and no one listened to complaints of the other.

  • bombayrunner Jan 12, 5:41 p.m.

    I agree, give the Dems some of their own medicine.

  • bigal02282 Jan 12, 4:53 p.m.

    Turn about is fair play, in every way. If the Dems tried to create advantageous district maps, the Cons sued. Works the other way now. All in all, NOTHING ever gets done about the REAL issues in our state as long as politics are involved.

  • LambeauSouth Jan 12, 4:48 p.m.

    Obama's justice department examined the racial angle and could not find any problems. They approved the maps. Do you know something they don't?
    Card Player
    obviously did not listen to the DOJ's arguement, The Review was for Title 5 which basically say's that based on Federal Law it seems fine, they had 60 day's to reply, then the House files suit and they again had the same 60 days, so basically it was either it is or isn't but the fact remains that it allows for tile 2 to be explored and allows the DOJ to argue title 2. The lady lawyer smoked those GOP lawyers

  • Obamadoesntcare Jan 12, 4:08 p.m.

    NAACP FILING A LAWSUIT....I AM SHOCKED!!!

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