A lawsuit backed by the National Redistricting Foundation was filed in North Carolina state court last week, claiming the current congressional district lines are gerrymandered according to political party and are in violation of the state constitution.
This lawsuit comes after a 2017 Supreme Court ruling that N.C. congressional districts were racially gerrymandered and a June 2019 Supreme Court ruling that federal courts had no jurisdiction in the state’s partisan gerrymandering case.
In September, a three-judge panel ruled the State Senate and State House district lines unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering.
The suit requests that the court order the 2016 congressional district lines unusable and enforce the drawing of new, compliant district lines before the 2020 elections.
It cites the Free Elections Clause, Equal Protection Clause, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly clauses of the N.C. Constitution as violated on behalf of the plaintiffs and all Democrats in North Carolina.
The 14 plaintiffs named in the suit are residents from each of the 13 districts, with two from District 11. The defendants include members of the State House and State Senate redistricting committees and members of the State Board of Elections.
Diane Pozefsky, a professor of computer science at UNC who taught a gerrymandering seminar last year, said she thinks the notion of manipulating the districts to stay in power is a problem.
“It is inappropriate — whether or not it is illegal seems to be in doubt,” she said.
Pozefsky also said it is possible the state court rules similar to the Supreme Court in June, essentially deciding this issue isn’t their responsibility. However, she said she thinks that would be an unlikely outcome.