GOP designs on 2018 elections tested in courts

GOP designs on 2018 elections tested in courts
February 01
11:20 2018

First there were congressional and legislative redistricting maps by the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly that have been successfully challenged in court. Then there is the law passed last year by the legislature eliminating judicial primaries in an attempt to either redistrict judicial elections, or establish a legislative merit selection process for judges. Prior to all of that, a voter ID law was struck down by a federal court as a tool of voter suppression.

And just last week, while Democrats were in federal court challenging the judicial redistricting law, the state Supreme Court sided with Gov. Roy Cooper, agreeing that the legislature overstepped its bounds and usurped his power, when it passed a law right after he took office last year merging the state Elections Board and the state Ethics Commission into one bipartisan governmental entity.

“This was a pre-emptive response to Cooper’s promise to roll back existing voter suppression measures that had passed when the Republicans had control of the whole state government,” wrote Charles P. Pierce for an article titled, “North Carolina’s Voter Suppression is a Lesson for the Rest of the Nation” in this week’s Esquire Magazine.

“The new policies almost guaranteed a permanent partisan gridlock, which would maintain the status quo.”

What the GOP is ultimately hoping for, political observers say, is for the federal courts (at least one of the redistricting cases has now gone to the U.S. Supreme Court) to agree with them that their maps are constitutional, and reflect the will of “most” North Carolinians because, after all, Republicans were voted, and then re-elected, into the majority in both the Congress and N.C. General Assembly.

“Prohibiting the state from using the duly enacted districting map that governed its last election cycle is not just practically disruptive, but represents a grave and irreparable sovereign injury,” Republican attorney Phil Strach argued in his 22-page petition for an emergency stay to the U.S. Supreme Court two weeks ago after a three-judge panel struck down the GOP’s 2016 congressional map.

Thus, Republican lawmakers say, they are only fulfilling “… the will of the people …” when they draw 10 out of 13 congressional voting districts Republican-leaning, and a majority of state House and Senate districts the same way.

And as for so-called “majority-minority” black voting districts, all Republican legislative leaders did, they’ve said, is “comply” with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, ensuring that African-American voters were able to elect representation of their choice to Congress and the legislature.

The federal courts saw it differently, ruling those districts “unconstitutional” because they “stacked-and-packed” black voters into a handful of voting districts to lessen their influence in races across the state.

A favorable resolution for the GOP of these issues point toward the 2018 elections, and Republican hopes to build on the legislative power they’ve amassed since taking over the N.C. General Assembly in 2011. Before Republican Gov. Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid in 2016, the only outlier in the GOP scheme for virtually complete control of state government was the judiciary, even though, prior to the 2016 elections they had a majority of the state Supreme Court.

Thus the moves to limit Gov. Cooper’s power, gain control of the state judiciary, and now, a desperate battle not to lose their advantage per the redistricting maps.

The courts hold the fate of N.C. GOP future power in their hands.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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