Redistricting master waiting for reaction to maps

Redistricting master waiting for reaction to maps
November 22
05:00 2017

The special master appointed by a federal three-judge panel several weeks ago to redraw redrawn legislative maps submitted by the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly in August has finished a first draft of his maps. He is now asking both plaintiffs and defendants in the Covington v. State of North Carolina case to review them, and offer their observations or criticisms now, before the court’s Dec. 1 deadline for completion.

The federal court rejected the previous maps because it has “serious concerns” about at least nine voting districts were still legally problematic. The court appointed Stanford University Law Professor Nathaniel Persily to first review the redrawn maps, and if he concurred with the problems, redraw them to remove any racial gerrymandering or other unconstitutional features.

On Nov. 13, Persily issued his preliminary maps for both House and Senate Districts.

According to Persily’s report accompanying the draft maps, “… the Court has ordered the Special Master to redraw Enacted 2017 State Senate Districts 21 and 28 and State House Districts 21 and 57 in order to remedy those districts’ violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It has also ordered redrawing of Enacted 2017 State House Districts 36, 37, 40, 41, and 105 because the General Assembly, in redrawing those districts in the 2017 Plan, may have violated the provision of the North Carolina State Constitution prohibiting redistricting more than once a decade.”

Of particular concern to African-Americans on the state Senate side was the manner in which the GOP has redrawn Senate District 28 in Guilford County, currently represented by state Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford).

In September, Sen. Robinson expressed frustration that her district was unnecessarily drawn as a majority-minority district.

“The courts specifically looked at my District 28 and commented on its composition.  Republicans are intent on protecting Sen. Trudy Wade [a white Republican from Guilford] for whom they created a district by packing 28.  I expect that the only remedy will be in the courts.”

Per his proposed redrawing of Senate District 28, Special Master Persily writes, “… the Court struck down the 2011 version of Senate District 28 and continues to harbor constitutional concerns as to racial predominance with regard to the district’s 2017 configuration. As expressed in the Special Master’s draft plan, the newly configured district is a compact district – almost a perfect circle … The newly drawn district is contained almost completely within the city [CDP] of Greensboro, and is made up of whole precincts.”

At press time, neither plaintiffs attorneys nor Sen. Robinson had a reaction to the Special Master’s redrawing of the district to relieve the “stacking and packing” of black voters there, so they wouldn’t influence electoral races in surrounding voting districts.

In order for Persily to meet his court mandated deadline of Dec. 1, he has ordered both plaintiffs and defendants in the case, “…to submit to the Special Master proposed objections and revisions to the Special Master’s Draft Plan by November 17, 2017.

“In particular, the parties are encouraged to include in these submissions suggestions as to how incumbents shall be unpaired without degrading the underlying features of the plan, as specified in the Court order,” the Special Master’s Order continued. “The parties shall also then specify any disagreements they have as to which incumbents are seeking reelection in 2018. Reply briefs shall be submitted by November 21, 2017… In their replies, the parties are encouraged to identify which proposed changes of the plaintiffs and defendants, if any, are jointly supported by the parties.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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