The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, June 20, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Federal courts rule NC maps unconstitutionally gerrymandered

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.”