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The Daily Tar Heel

Federal courts rule NC maps unconstitutionally gerrymandered

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The congressional district plan was enacted on Feb. 19, 2016. It was drawn in response to a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Photo courtesy of the N.C. General Assembly.

A federal court ruled unanimously Tuesday the N.C. General Assembly's 2016 congressional maps unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering — the first ruling of its kind.

The court demanded the Republican-controlled legislature redraw district lines by Jan. 24. 

The ruling marks the first time a federal court has struck down maps because of partisan gerrymandering, as opposed to racial gerrymandering. 

In 2017, a federal court had ruled the legislature had unconstitutionally gerrymandered two of the state's 13 congressional districts along racial lines and ordered legislators to redraw maps. 

N.C. Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, said the General Assembly would use political data to draw district lines during a redistricting committee meeting in February 2016.

“We want to make clear that we … are going to use political data in drawing this map,” Lewis said. “It is to gain partisan advantage on the map. I want that criteria to be clearly stated and understood.”

Common Cause NC then filed a suit arguing the unconstitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. 

 “This is a true victory for North Carolina voters,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, in a statement Tuesday. “At long last, politicians will no longer be allowed to use partisan gerrymandering in order to shield themselves from accountability to the public.” 

@DTHStatNat