Supreme Court: NC voters must prove harm from partisan congressional map
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said North Carolina voters who challenged the legality of congressional district maps state lawmakers drew in 2016 need to show how they have been harmed by those maps.Posted — Updated
"While it’s unfortunate that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear this case right away, we are optimistic that the lower court will recognize, like they did in January, that North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering is so egregious that it is unconstitutional and that our clients are the appropriate parties to be raising such claims," Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is representing voters in the case, said in a statement.
"The harm done to voters when they are packed and cracked into districts that discriminate against them based on their political affiliations is clear, and we will continue to pursue justice for our clients and all voters who deserve fair election districts," Riggs said. "We hope to get this case back before the U.S. Supreme Court next term, in time for fair districts for 2020."
The chief map-maker in the state House, Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, declared at the time that the new map was built to elect 10 Republicans and three Democrats to the U.S. House "because I do not believe it's possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats."
Last week, the high court told Wisconsin plaintiffs in a similar partisan gerrymandering case that they hadn't shown individual harm from the map there, so the case was sent back to a lower court to give them the opportunity to do so. In light of that ruling, the court handled North Carolina's case the same way.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the Wisconsin decision that the Supreme Court's role "is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it," not generalized partisan preferences.
"Our legal fight against partisan gerrymandering continues, and we are confident the court will ultimately affirm our landmark victory in this case," Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, said in a statement. "Our plaintiffs clearly have standing and have suffered real harm by the legislature’s extreme partisan gerrymandering. We must end gerrymandering to ensure all voters have a voice in our democracy."
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