For the second time in a decade, a federal court has ruled that North Carolina’s congressional electoral map is unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering that attempted to dilute the impact of black voters. The nearly 200-page decision, published late Tuesday afternoon, says the map violates not one, not two, but three provisions of the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment, Article I, and the Equal Protection Clause.
Defendants named in the case are State Sen. Robert Rucho, Rep. David Lewis, State House Speaker Timothy K. Moore, and State Senate Pro Tempore Philip E. Berger. Those men, the judges write, “do not dispute that the General Assembly intended for the [2016 map] to favor supporters of Republican candidates and disfavor supporters of non-Republican candidates. Nor could they.” The decision continued (emphasis mine):
The Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly expressly directed the legislators and consultant responsible for drawing the 2016 Plan to rely on “political data” ... to draw a districting plan that would ensure Republican candidates would prevail in the vast majority of the state’s congressional districts.
[The defendants] also do not argue—and have never argued—that the 2016 Plan’s intentional disfavoring of supporters of non-Republican candidates advances any democratic, constitutional, or public interest. Nor could they. ...
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 “think[s] electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats.”
The decision then acknowledged that Rep. Lewis and Sen. Rucho instructed officials to establish “two majority-black districts” in the First and Twelfth districts, hoping that concentrating black voters would diminish statewide support for Democratic candidates.