Redistricting maps still target black district court judges

Redistricting maps still target black district court judges
February 01
09:26 2018

Yet a third set of proposed judicial redistricting maps were made public last week during the Jan. 25th meeting of the Joint House and Senate Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting, and from the start, it was made clear that they would not be the last.

But one thing was made clear – when it came to black district court judges, they are indeed targeted to be lessened in number across the state if the Republican-led legislature passes its judicial redistricting plan.

The joint committee has issued what it calls “Option A” on how district and superior court judges would be elected, or reelected under their proposed redistricting scheme, and that would involve double-bunking, or creating a smaller number of district court seats in a particular judicial district than are there now, and forcing incumbent judges to effectively run against each other to stay in office.

Some judges could even lose their seats once their term in office expires.

According to an analysis by NC Policy Watch, a nonprofit progressive advocacy news site, there would be 64 district court judges double-bunked in 15 counties across North Carolina in the latest judicial redistricting  “Option A” plan.

Those judges must live where they would run for election.

In several counties, there would be only two open district court seats, for example, but three sitting judges vying for re-election. That would mean at least one of them would be stranded.

Forty-seven are registered Democrats, while just seventeen are Republicans.

Thirty-two percent, according to NC Policywatch, of the double-bunked district court judges affected are African – American. That’s down from the 43% that was displayed in the previous Option A plan.

According to a Jan. 10, 2018 analysis by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a nonprofit legal group that has been fighting GOP redistricting efforts in the courts of the Dec. 13, 2017 proposed judicial redistricting map, the judicial redistricting proposals, “…are motivated by improper and illegal racial and partisan biases.”

“Using recent election results, the SCSJ analysis finds that the judicial redistricting proposal represents “a gross political gerrymander of our state’s legal system, designed to ensure that Republican judges will be elected in a disproportionate number of districts statewide,” the SCSJ report continued. “Republican judges would be expected to win 70 – 72% of Superior Court races and 69.4 – 71 % of the District Court judgeships. Likewise, the pairing of incumbent judges and the strategic placement of open seats both demonstrate an overwhelmingly strong bias toward Republicans.”

The report continued, “Additionally, the proposed districts are apparently derivative of racially gerrymandered state legislative districts that federal courts continue to invalidate.”

“The December 13 map contains several problematic configurations that suggest that the map drawers are using race in an impermissible way, packing voters of color into as few districts as possible,” the SCSJ report adds. “In parts of the state, the proposed judicial districts appears to be largely derivative of districts that have been struck down by unanimous federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, as racial gerrymanders. And in some areas, the judicial districts bear an uncanny resemblance to the districts that the legislature enacted in 2017 to “remedy” the 2011 state legislative racial gerrymanders.”

A three-judge panel ultimately struck down that “remedy” to the legislative maps, hiring a special master to redraw them, and then ordering his work used for the 2018 midterm elections. Republican legislative leaders are expected to appeal that order.

According to the SCSJ, the proposed judicial redistricting maps have the same problem when it comes to race, and will probably have to also be challenged in court.

About Author

Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors