North Carolina Republicans stage redistricting comeback – Carolina Journal


NC General Assembly Republicans are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to limit state court oversight of future congressional redistricting.

Republicans filed a writ of certiorari with the court, saying the Democratic-controlled state Supreme Court violated the Election Clause of the US Constitution by invalidating the Legislature’s Congressional cards and imposing their own .

The US Supreme Court has already rejected lawmakers’ request to intervene ahead of this year’s election.

The refusal to intervene was a victory for NC Democrats who will win more seats under the court-drawn map than the map drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to act is based on the Purcell principle, who says Federal courts generally should not change state election rules shortly before an election.

But Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the Supreme Court would have to consider what is known as the “independent state legislature” doctrine in a separate case. Three justices — Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch — also indicated their support for the doctrine disagreeing with the court’s refusal to act in the North Carolina case.

Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said, “Activist judges and allied plaintiffs have proven time and time again that they believe state courts have the final say on Congressional cards no matter what. says the US Constitution. We must continue this fight to restore the primacy of the legislature and put an end to these efforts to undermine its constitutional duty.

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said, “The US Constitution is crystal clear: State legislatures are responsible for drawing the maps of Congress, not state court judges, and certainly not with the help of partisan political agents.

Moore continued, “We hope the Supreme Court will reaffirm this basic principle and reject the illegal card imposed on the people of North Carolina by its highest court. It is time to settle once and for all the question of the electoral clause.

the doctrine of the independent state legislature would interpret the federal election clause of the United States Constitution as saying that the state legislatures have the exclusive power of the state in matters of federal elections. The theory would baffle North Carolina courts when it comes to overseeing congressional redistricting.

The electoral clause regards the legislature as the authority over the “time, place and manner” federal elections, but also allows Congress to “at any time by law may or may modify these regulations.”

In its court filing, NC Republicans wrote:

“By its plain text, the Elections Clause creates the power to regulate the times, places, and manner of federal elections, and then vests that power in “the legislature” of each state. It does not leave states free to limit the power constitutionally vested in the legislature or place it elsewhere in the machinery of state government, as a matter of state law. After all, the election clause “could have said that [federal election] rules were to be prescribed “by each state”, which would have left it to each state to decide [state entity] should exercise that power,” but instead, “Language 3 of the Constitution specifies a particular organ of a state government, and we must take that language seriously.”

The New York Times points out that the votes of four conservative justices would be enough to add a doctrine case to the trial docket.

“But it takes five votes to win,” says the Times. “The swing vote would almost certainly belong to Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”

It should be noted that Republicans in the state have little to lose in this matter. The question is settled for this year. If Republicans retain control of the General Assembly, which they are heavily favored, they can redraw congressional districts next year no matter what.

State Republicans have received a series of bloody blows in the recent battle over new political borders.

The state Supreme Court installed a court-drawn map of Congress that was specifically drawn to improve the position of Democrats in the North Carolina congressional delegation. In 2020, North Carolina elected eight Republicans and five Democrats. The new map virtually guarantees that North Carolina will elect six Democrats in 2022, regardless of the election results. Republicans will almost certainly win seven of the 14 seats. Only one of the 14 seats is considered a competition/swing seat.

The court also forced Republicans to redraw the state’s legislative maps to ensure more Democrats are elected, saying the North Carolina Constitution requires “partisan” election results, although there are no no text in the document that says so.

But Moore recently told the Carolina Journal that he thinks the General Assembly is free to redraw the maps of the State House and state Senate as well, and would likely pursue that option. The North Carolina Tribune Colin Campbell reported that Moore said the same thing.

According to Campbell, Moore believes that a constitutional ban on the state redrawing legislative districts in the middle of the decade does not apply because the legislature was responding to a court order.

The Democratic-aligned plaintiffs say strongly that they believe the General Assembly is stuck with the revised maps.

But if the current political environment holds, Republicans will take control of the North Carolina Supreme Court in November, and the GOP court will decide whether the legislative maps can be redrawn. The Republican General Assembly would also have a court that finds that the issue of partisanship in redistricting is a political question that only the General Assembly and voters can answer.

The bottom line is this:

Democrats have made some modest gains in North Carolina thanks to recent redistricting lawsuits. The Democrats will win six seats in the US House instead of the three or four they would have won. CJ reported that Democrats also won one or two seats in the state Senate and four to five seats in the state House thanks to the lawsuits.

However, those gains in the current brutal political environment for Democrats may not prevent Republicans from winning anti-veto supermajorities in 2022 anyway.

The additional two or three seats the Democrats win in the US House through litigation won’t prevent the Democrats from losing the majority in the US House in 2022.

Republicans could redraw all of North Carolina’s political maps in 2023, with a friendly state Supreme Court.

Democrats could end up worse off than if there had never been a trial this year.

Moreover, the United States Supreme Court could forever sideline the state Supreme Court on congressional redistricting.

Remind me again who won and who lost?


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