“Frivolous lawsuits.” “Judicial activism.”
Really, Mark Walker?
That’s how the congressman from Greensboro described the court decision Tuesday that the congressional redistricting of 2016 was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
Come on, man. The members of the General Assembly who led the effort not only admitted it, they practically bragged about it.
“We want to make clear that we … are going to use political data in drawing this map,” Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) said in 2016. “It is to gain partisan advantage on the map. … I want that criteria to be clearly stated and understood.”
Lewis said the committee’s goal would be to create a new map that retained his party’s 10-3 advantage “because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”
In other words, if the committee could draw a map that further disadvantaged Democrats, or shut them out altogether, it would do so happily.
Rather than seeking to advance any democratic or constitutional interest, the state legislator responsible for drawing the 2016 plan said he drew the map to advantage Republican candidates because he “thinks — electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” wrote Judge James Wynn in the decision by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
“But that is not a choice the Constitution allows legislative mapdrawers to make.”
Mapmakers can’t make that choice because they are denying voters of another party the opportunity for equal representation. They are trampling voters’ constitutional rights to choose their leaders by allowing those in power to select their voters instead.
Over time, partisan gerrymandering allows those representing minority opinions in the state to overrule the will of the majority, as demonstrated in countless laws blocked or enacted by the General Assembly since 2011. Medicaid expansion, school funding, LGBTQ rights, nonpartisan redistricting, gun control and abortion rights are a few examples of issues on which the legislative action contradicted the will of most North Carolinians.
N.C. Sen. Trudy Wade has directly contradicted the will of Greensboro voters on numerous issues, even attempting to gerrymander Greensboro City Council districts in the face of widespread and vocal opposition. She has used her position to benefit the waste industy at the cost of environmental protection, and to punish those who get in her way.
The state’s congressmen have similarly disregarded the will of their constituents on the national level. North Carolinians believed the Republican tax plan would primarily benefit the wealthy — and only a third of voters nationally supported it — but Walker, Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and all but one North Carolina Republican in Congress voted for it, lauding themselves afterward for “bringing tax relief” to millions of lower- and middle-income families.
They have been able to ignore the will of the majority only because they have solidified their hold on public office through unconstitutional means.
“At long last, politicians will no longer be allowed to use partisan gerrymandering in order to shield themselves from accountability to the public,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, a plaintiff in the case.
Republicans, both statewide and nationally, have shown there is nothing they won’t do to gain and retain power. Partisan gerrymandering has been a key tool applied to do so.
This represents, the court said, “an abuse of power that, at its core, evinces a fundamental distrust of voters, serving the self-interest of the political parties at the expense of the public good.”
The decision also noted that an unconsititutionally gerrymandered body could use legislation in other ways — such as restricting voting rights — to preserve its hold on power at both the state and federal level. The N.C. General Assembly did, of course, do just that with the omnibus voting bill passed in 2013.
Having been thwarted in some of these efforts by the courts, the General Assembly is now trying to gain control of the North Carolina judiciary.
While hurling claims that the courts are “activist” or that the decisions show partisan motives, the GOP leadership is rushing headlong to make sure that judges are not only partisan but firmly Republican partisan.
In creating a system of “one person, one vote,” the framers of the Constitution intended that each person’s vote count equally.
But that can’t happen when districts are intentionally drawn to dilute the votes of an ethnic group or political party.
So there is nothing frivolous in this or any other suit that has been filed against gerrymandering. These suits defend the most sacred tenet of democracy — that the citizens get to choose their leaders.
In a statement released Wednesday, Walker vowed…
Authored by Mike Tigas