Superior Court judges in North Carolina have upheld a new congressional map that Democrats argued was the result of gerrymandering by the state’s Republican legislators. Democrats, including former Attorney General Eric Holder , have campaigned against the redistricting and argue that it will make it more difficult for their candidates to win elections in November. They will likely appeal the loss in the time remaining before the election.
NC Democrats suffer loss in court
The panel of three judges agreed with the Democrats that the new map was designed to favor Republican candidates, but they refused to throw it out as the plaintiffs wished.
The judges explained that they felt uncomfortable about overruling a map which is the result of the normal democratic process in the state, even if it does favor one party.
State legislatures are required to redraw congressional maps every ten years after the U.S. Census provides updated information on population distribution.
Technically the redistricting is supposed to adjust congressional districts so that the population continues to be appropriately represented in the House.
In practice, both parties have always used the opportunity to engage in gerrymandering, the practice of shaping districts to maximize votes for their candidates. It’s the loss of a chance to get a leg up on the other party that Democrats are protesting, rather than any real sense of injustice.
Gerrymandering is something that every politician will openly denounce but which neither party will ever pass up an opportunity to use against their opponents.
Republicans hold key 2022 advantage
If the North Carolina judges suddenly decided that one gerrymandered Republican map should be thrown out, they automatically insert themselves into party politics and weaponize the courts against the GOP.
It’s an especially touchy issue this year, given that control of Congress may be decided by just a few key races. The congressional map in North Carolina could very well end up deciding who controls the House.
Democrats think that there is a good chance that the state Supreme Court, in which they have a 4-3 majority will hear an appeal and throw out the map.
Both parties are claiming that their interest in the redistricting controversy is simply coming from their concern about the other’s efforts to politicize the issue at the expense of North Carolina voters.
Of course, Republicans are fighting to protect a map which benefits their candidates and Democrats are trying to misuse the courts as a tool to dismantle a GOP advantage.
For Eric Holder and other Democrats who have campaigned to throw out the map, this loss will sting. Unless the decision is reversed, the GOP has just gotten one step closer to winning the House.