Courts strike down 2 North Carolina congressional districts… after voting begins

posted at 11:31 am on February 6, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

Things are getting ugly in North Carolina on the election front. A panel of federal judges has tossed out part of the congressional district map which has been under construction for five years now. The boundaries for two of their districts, the 1st and the 12th, have been tossed because Republicans allegedly packed too many black voters into them. If that leaves you scratching your head, we’ll get to the underlying reasons shortly. (Yahoo News)

Federal judges struck down late Friday two majority black congressional districts in North Carolina, saying race was the predominant factor in drawing those lines but state legislators lacked justification in using that practice.

Two of the three judges on the redistricting panel hearing the 2013 lawsuit agreed the size and composition of both the 1st and 12th Districts violated the Constitution’s equal protection provision and must be redrawn.

The judges ordered the General Assembly to come up with new boundaries by Feb. 19, although Republican lawmakers who helped shepherd North Carolina’s congressional map through the legislature in 2011 said a swift appeal was coming. The state could seek a delay at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Because of the rampant use of gerrymandering all over the nation this story might produce a yawn from many readers. We have these cases cropping up all the time, though generally it’s in the first couple of years after each census. This one is causing a lot more consternation though, because the state’s congressional primary elections are coming up next month and absentee ballots are already coming in. The judges gave the state barely two weeks to draw new lines and resubmit them. By that time the mail in ballots will be well on their way, so what do they plan to do about that?

Meanwhile, the state NAACP is on the record saying this is a great decision because the current district lines are examples of racism. Wait… what? (WRAL)

Rev. William Barber, state president of the NAACP, said the federal court ruling validates the group’s argument for the past five years that the voting districts are illegal.

“This unanimous court decision vindicates the record we first brought to the attention of the public – that the state legislature under (Senate President Pro Tem Phil) Berger and (former House Speaker Thom) Tillis had drawn racially biased unconstitutional voting districts,” Barber said in an email to WRAL News. “This is a huge victory in our fight against 21st-century racism and discrimination.”

As I mentioned at the top, there may be a bit of confusion over how building two districts with even more black voters in them is racist, but there’s something to the theory. For their part, the Republicans in charge of the state legislature are saying that they have cut the districts to be fully in line with the Voting Rights Act. They make a good case for at least one of the districts because of the act’s requirement to establish Minority Majority Districts, particularly across the south, ensuring minority voters some territory where minority candidates would stand a better chance of winning. (Somewhere out there, Senator Tim Scott is hearing this and banging his head on his desk.)

So how is that racist? As the theory goes, the GOP supposedly latched on to that requirement as a way to channel as many minority voters into a few districts they knew they would lose anyway, tilting the balance in the opposite direction in neighboring districts. There was a not very subtle explanation of this in the Atlantic a couple of years ago.

But just in time for the redistricting in 1990, some enterprising Republicans began noticing a rather curious fact: The drawing of majority-minority districts not only elected more minorities, it also had the effect of bleeding minority voters out of all the surrounding districts. Given that minority voters were the most reliably Democratic voters, that made all of the neighboring districts more Republican. The black, Latino, and Asian representatives mostly were replacing white Democrats, and the increase in minority representation was coming at the expense of electing fewer Democrats. The Democrats had been tripped up by a classic Catch-22, as had minority voters: Even as legislatures were becoming more diverse, they were ironically becoming less friendly to the agenda of racial minorities.

I’ll just skip over my rant about how mandating district construction based on racial divisions goes against the entire idea of building a truly post-racial, colorblind country. You’ve heard it all here before. But the North Carolina case does speak to the larger need to reform this process. If they hit too much of a delay here they’re going to wind up disenfranchising the entire state, not just one subset of it. The idea of “independent panels” making up district maps isn’t much better than what we have now because it would require finding legitimately independent people to get involved with what is, by definition, a politically tainted procedure. We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

North Carolina


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Comments

fuk the courts.

bgibbs1000 on February 6, 2016 at 11:38 AM

…Racists!

JugEarsButtHurt on February 6, 2016 at 11:38 AM

Federal judges struck down late Friday two majority black congressional districts in North Carolina,

…the Judges were flying Confederate Flags?

JugEarsButtHurt on February 6, 2016 at 11:40 AM

The state should tell federal judges to pound sand.

NWConservative on February 6, 2016 at 11:44 AM

We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Jazz Shaw

Because it makes too much sense.

cozmo on February 6, 2016 at 11:47 AM

I guess the judges were looking for the state legislature to somehow turn a minority based on race into a majority based on….racial equality?

What planet are these idiots from anyway?

Andy__B on February 6, 2016 at 11:48 AM

I’m telling you, the only way to fix gerrymandering is to have the lines drawn by a simple algorithm, like the minimization of A*(total length of all district boarders)+B*(sum of the squares of all district population discrepancies).

Count to 10 on February 6, 2016 at 11:48 AM

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Here you go Jazz. A recent article by Instapundit. I got the link either here or at AoSHQ. Probably the latter since you don’t seem to have seen it.

… but rather the standard answer for why politicians don’t like some things as much as they like others: Insufficient opportunities for graft.

It’s one of the best things I’ve seen by Instapundit.

gh on February 6, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Naivete most likely.

BobMbx on February 6, 2016 at 11:57 AM

Liberal judges have already done the same thing in FL and VA. If liberals don’t like the result, they immediately head to the courthouse.

IR-MN on February 6, 2016 at 11:59 AM

If as many blacks as possible are “packed” into one district, by default a greater percentage of whites are packed into some other district. The first favors blacks winning “their” district – which the left obviously favors – whereas the second favors whites winning “their” district. Obviously, the left wants it both ways – a slam dunk in “black” districts and a “fair” fight in “white” districts.

sixchickensleft on February 6, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Because the ruling oligarchy couldn’t constantly try to steer outcomes in their favor.

ghostwalker1 on February 6, 2016 at 12:03 PM

The VRA is a giant race-based clusterf*ck. Should be struck down on equal protection grounds, along with state-sponsored affirmative action.

thirtyandseven on February 6, 2016 at 12:04 PM

The larger issue to my mind, is the utter contempt the federal government has for the sovereign states, and the left’s contempt for following any kind of rules when they don’t like where the game is heading.

The districts were drawn up in full compliance with the law, yet based on the judges personal (leftist) opinion, they simply knock the pieces off the board and tell the state to put them back so more democrats can get elected.

North Carolina should just tell the federal government to go to hell.

Rebar on February 6, 2016 at 12:06 PM

gh on February 6, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Excellent, but it just gives me more reason to stay in the woods, looking for all those guns I lost.

vnvet on February 6, 2016 at 12:07 PM

Typical liberal scenario…

“We demand X for racial justice!”

Then, due to unintended consequences…

“Republicans are racist for giving us X like we demanded!”

Oxymoron on February 6, 2016 at 12:14 PM

We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Is it, really???

Sinecures, Jazz. Sinecures.

Nomennovum on February 6, 2016 at 12:14 PM

In the past, Democrats tried to pack minorities into districts to ensure that they would elect a minority representative. WTF?

Techster64 on February 6, 2016 at 12:18 PM

Bernie claims to be against BIG banks, BIG oil, and BIG lobbyists…..but doesn’t claim to be against BIG GOVERNMENT and BIG WIND or BIG SOLAR????

Realdemocrat1 on February 6, 2016 at 12:27 PM

California supposedly went to an “independent” “outside” map making “Citizens Redistricting Commission”, which was voted in by referendum. The Republican party in CA pushed for it, not having the foresight to understand that the commission would fall into the hands of the best organized groups in the state.

The “best organized” groups are never on the right.

At several stages in the selection process, the applicants are filtered through the hands of government bureaucrats and politicians. Yep, that will be nice and fair to Republicans. The commission is supposed to have 3 Dems, 3 Republicans, and 2 independents, but the selection can be skewed to appoint squishy Republicans and strong Democrats, or people who only claim to be Republicans but who are really of the left.

Republicans are so often twits.

HakerA on February 6, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Nomennovum on February 6, 2016 at 12:14 PMlready done the same thing in FL and VA. If liberals don’t like the result, they immediately head to the courthouse.

IR-MN on February 6, 2016 at 11:59 AM

They didn’t do things equally the way we define equality this week!

Liberal judges have a We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Is it, really???

Sinecures, Jazz. Sinecures.

Because they don’t WANT to do away with gerrymandering. They don’t WANT equality (anywhere – in terms of representation of power) They want to gerrymander so the Democrats can win.

That’s why you won’t hear a peep about asian discrimination.. and yet it’s rampant in the blue states.

Skywise on February 6, 2016 at 12:37 PM

Bernie claims to be against BIG banks, BIG oil, and BIG lobbyists…..but doesn’t claim to be against BIG GOVERNMENT and BIG WIND or BIG SOLAR????

Realdemocrat1 on February 6, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Because only BERNIE should be allowed to decide what’s fair – Like Obama and Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and all the other good little socialists only they know the troof.

(Oh yeah… I went there)

Skywise on February 6, 2016 at 12:39 PM

We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Jazz Shaw

And you think the computer program could not be manipulated to covertly give advantage to one group over another?

animal02 on February 6, 2016 at 12:41 PM

We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Hear, hear.

CivilDiscourse on February 6, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Power.

Valiant on February 6, 2016 at 1:20 PM

The reason we’re not doing this with computers? Who writes the software? Does ANYONE (with the problems surrounding touch screen voting to IRS hard drives to the billions spent on failed Obamacare web sites) really expect to see a fair piece of code purchased by government lackeys?

NielsZoo on February 6, 2016 at 1:46 PM

The ’65 Voting Rights Act should be repealed. And the ’64 Civil Rights Act. Only way to shut up the constant gibsmedat nonsense.

profnickd67 on February 6, 2016 at 1:55 PM

I’m not sure what Alcee Hasting’s district looks like in Florida now, but there was a time when it looked like a snake going from Miami past Ft. Lauderdale. They gerrymandered West out of a seat and gerrymandered Hastings into a seat, all of this done by Republicans. If you don’t believe the establishment is out to get the tea party, just look at how they’ve drawn the districts.

I agree, we should have districts drawn as narrowly as possible to get the required population and not do any stretches to get certain people elected. Allen West would have certainly won in his district before Republicans did a job on him.

bflat879 on February 6, 2016 at 1:59 PM

Black “leaders” want to be separate but equal, except when they’re separate but equal.

SouthernGent on February 6, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

Yeah, who would ever think that a group of people with power would fight tooth and nail to avoid giving up even a piece of that power?

Tom Servo on February 6, 2016 at 2:09 PM

This is happening to my district in Virginia…my district will go from strongly Republican to leans Democrat…SCOTUS will rule on this and there is a hearing in March, but no one expects it to be overruled by the SCOTUS (they wouldnt even delay the redistricting until after they rule).

ellifint on February 6, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Talk about a gerrymandered district, take a look at 12. (The long skinny one from Greensboro to Charlotte).

http://www.wrhammons.com/Image/nc-congressional-maps.gif

diogenes on February 6, 2016 at 2:59 PM

This is only unconstitutional when Republicans do it; but when done by Dems to maximize their legislative representation, it is perfectly Kool, and defended by the ACLU.

Another Drew on February 6, 2016 at 3:10 PM

NC District 12 has a long history. In the early 1990’s the DOJ ordered the Democrat-controlled state to create districts along racial lines, which ensured election of minority representatives fo the fist time since reconstruction. It has since been heavily litigated. The basic shape of District 12 as established was kept by the GOP in 2011 redistricting plan to avoid further litigation. Funny how that has worked out.
http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/departments/scr/redist/redsum/NCSUM.HTM

Rockster on February 6, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Yet another reason why “early voting” should be eliminated.

Lance Corvette on February 6, 2016 at 3:28 PM

Somewhere out there, Senator Tim Scott is hearing this and banging his head on his desk.

Indeed. But the real issue is not race, but who is more likely to vote democrat and how that can be manipulated.

Obviously, this Jerry Mander guy needs to go the same way of that punk Jim Crow.

locomotivebreath1901 on February 6, 2016 at 3:34 PM

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

HRC won 6 “random” coinflips. The computer program will draw districts that are “blind” to political ideology.

tdarrington on February 6, 2016 at 3:53 PM

We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me
.

Looks like we need to crowdfund a new batch of sarc tags for Jazz.

Obviously, the left wants it both ways – a slam dunk in “black” districts and a “fair” fight in “white” districts.

sixchickensleft on February 6, 2016 at 12:00 PM

The larger issue to my mind, is the utter contempt the federal government has for the sovereign states, and the left’s contempt for following any kind of rules when they don’t like where the game is heading.

The districts were drawn up in full compliance with the law, yet based on the judges personal (leftist) opinion, they simply knock the pieces off the board and tell the state to put them back so more democrats can get elected.

North Carolina should just tell the federal government to go to hell.

Rebar on February 6, 2016 at 12:06 PM

Typical liberal scenario…

“We demand X for racial justice!”

Then, due to unintended consequences…

“Republicans are racist for giving us X like we demanded!”

Oxymoron on February 6, 2016 at 12:14 PM

Black “leaders” want to be separate but equal, except when they’re separate but equal.

SouthernGent on February 6, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Black students too.

And you think the computer program could not be manipulated to covertly give advantage to one group over another?

animal02 on February 6, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Any government program should be mandatory open-source.

AesopFan on February 6, 2016 at 4:07 PM

this is the result of letting Maobama pack the federal courts for 7+ years– activist liberal judges pushing their racialist agenda over legitimately passed laws

If there was ever an argument for finally repealing the VRA, the minority turnouts in 2012 should be the nail in the coffin

But we’ll never get the opportunity once Killary apoints 2-3 more far leftist SCOTUS judges and permanently rewrites the Constitution

As it is now the VRA is hanging on by a thread, if we can get another 1-2 solid conservative Justices appointed next term we can drive a stake through its heart for once and for all

thurman on February 6, 2016 at 4:07 PM

Here you go Jazz. A recent article by Instapundit. I got the link either here or at AoSHQ. Probably the latter since you don’t seem to have seen it.

… but rather the standard answer for why politicians don’t like some things as much as they like others: Insufficient opportunities for graft.

It’s one of the best things I’ve seen by Instapundit.

gh on February 6, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Reynolds is top-of-form in this one.
Nothing new, of course, but he says it so well.

AesopFan on February 6, 2016 at 4:25 PM

Every Congressman wants a safe district and lobbies to get it. Every State Party wants as many Congressmen of their party as they can get which means they want districts with their voters in the majority but often not as big a majority as the Congressional incumbents want. There is a conflict there within the party. Black Congressmen/women want a majority black district to assure they will be elected not some white person even though they are a Democrat too. The state party is less interested in what color someone is than in what party they support. Again there is a conflict within the party.

So what we see usually is blacks pushing for affirmative action in the Voting Rights Act while white Dem congressmen were actually quietly in opposition as were white state Dem Party Chairmen. Now a liberal court is leaning toward maximizing Democrats instead of maximizing blacks. This will lead to another conflict in the Democratic Party down the road. The Dems can have lots of Dem representatives or just a higher percentage of Black Representatives; but not both.

KW64 on February 6, 2016 at 5:31 PM

We’re at the point now where we should be able to use computer programs to simply divide up states into equal numbers of people with the most compact district shapes possible. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Why we’re not already doing this is a mystery to me.

There’s a very good reason, Jazz. Though, it is honored more in the breach than in the doing. The fact is that even national House representation is not supposed to simply be the number of people divided into 435 – it is supposed to be representing communities. So, the folks who live on the coast might need different representation than the folks who live on the other side of the state.

It might be an ideal that is no longer appropriate. But it got steam-rollered ages ago by treating each state as uniform, and “democracy” as some perfect goal (like popular election of Senators). Because the long-term goal of the leftists has been to bring every single voter under the thumb of the over-arching national gov’t.

GWB on February 6, 2016 at 5:39 PM

There must be a provision that allows some previous districting scheme to be in effect while the new one is adjudicated.

So it’s not really going to affect this election much at all.

jake1246 on February 6, 2016 at 7:04 PM

because of the act’s requirement to establish Minority Majority Districts,…….

Hoist by their own petard?

iurockhead on February 7, 2016 at 1:57 PM