September 4, 2019/Media

What They’re Saying: “Sweeping, Emphatic Decision” Rules GOP Partisan Gerrymandering Unconstitutional in “Huge Win”

Yesterday, a three-judge panel in North Carolina ruled that Republicans’ partisan gerrymandered legislative maps are unconstitutional in a “sweeping, emphatic decision” that is a “huge win for voting rights advocates” and a “major blow to Republicans who control the legislature.”

Republican leaders announced they won’t challenge the ruling in “a surprising but logical concession” as “their odds of triumph are slim.” They have until September 18th to redraw the districts entirely in public view – any computer screen they use has to be visible to the public. With “all roads lead[ing] to new legislative maps,” the path to the majority for legislative Democrats just became clearer.

Read what reporters in North Carolina and across the country are saying about the historic decision:

  • “The judges found that “The North Carolina Supreme Court has long and consistently held that ‘our government is founded on the will of the people,’ that ‘their will is expressed by the ballot.’” And that fact helped the judges conclude that the maps violated the state constitution because “it is the carefully crafted maps, and not the will of the voters, that dictate the election outcomes in a significant number of legislative districts and, ultimately, the majority control of the General Assembly.”” – News & Observer
  • “In a major blow to Republicans who control the Legislature in one of the nation’s most bitterly divided states, a state court panel threw out North Carolina’s state legislative maps as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered lawmakers to draw up new ones in two weeks.” – New York Times
  • “The ruling is a huge win for voting rights advocates, who say that gerrymandering — the process of drawing district maps to favor a party or politician — undermines democracy by allowing lawmakers to pick the voters.” – NBC News
  • “Tuesday’s ruling in Common Cause v. Lewis is, in many ways, the most comprehensive judicial opinion about partisan gerrymandering ever written. Issued by a unanimous three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court, Lewis is both an exhaustive exploration of how partisan gerrymandering works and a scathing denunciation of its constitutional harms.” – Slate
  • “Put simply, all roads lead to new legislative maps, giving Democrats a real chance at winning majorities in the state house and senate. Tuesday’s decision all but ensures that North Carolina will, at long last, hold free and fair legislative elections in 2020.” – Slate
  • “North Carolina’s state court delivered Democrats a big win Tuesday, ruling the state’s legislative district map unconstitutional, and paving a path to undo years of Republican gerrymandering in a traditionally competitive state.” – Vox
  • “This case could be a blueprint for other states — like WisconsinMaryland, and Texas — that have extremely gerrymandered maps. It gives Democrats in North Carolina a bigger chance to win back at least one chamber of the state legislature.” – Vox
  • “State lawmakers have until Sept. 18 to draw new districts, the court said, and they won’t be allowed to take into account any data about election results. Lawmakers will also be banned from using the existing maps as a “starting point” as they draw new maps and will be required to draw maps entirely in public view, the court ruled. Any computer screen the lawmakers use, the court said, has to be fully visible to lawmakers and public observers.” –HuffPost
  • “That means Democrats will almost certainly pick up seats in North Carolina’s state legislature… This is a stunning turnaround in a short time.” – Washington Post
  • “Three state judges – two Democrats and a Republican – delivered a sharp rebuke in ruling their legislative redistricting scheme unconstitutional.” – CBC Editorial Board
  • “The three state Superior Court judges … were eloquent in their plain and direct language, explaining how the legislative leadership denied full participation to tens of thousands of North Carolina votes in their elections and denied millions of residents real representation and voices in the state legislature.” – CBC Editorial Board
  • “No politicians — of either side — should have the power to determine the rules of their own re-election. But the state court decisions, invoking the broader protections of state constitutions, offer another tool to fight back against self-interested politicians who craft unfair election rules “with surgical precision” to keep themselves in power.” – Joshua Douglas for CNN
  • “BFD for democracy” – @AriBerman
  • “A big win for voting rights today, with judges deciding that the GOP-controlled NC legislature violated the state constitution in their efforts to rig and gerrymander state maps. This is why we need to fight for every vote in every state. No one should be silenced.” – @JeffMerkley
  • “Victory!! After yrs of fighting GOP gerrymandering in NC, court rules political maps for the state legislature are unconstitutional & must be redrawn before 2020 elections!” – @RevDrBarber
  • “This was a huge victory in our fight against gerrymandering in a case launched, supported and funded by the @RedistrictFdn. I promise that we WILL hold map manipulating politicians accountable in the courts -and the ballot box- until we have fair maps around the country.” – @EricHolder
  • “This is an incredibly significant ruling.” – @srl
  • “This is a BIG deal. The GOP currently controls the House by 10 and the Senate by 8. With more fair maps, we could win back power in NC and then have a role in congressional redistricting in 2021.” – @AmandaLitman
  • “This chopped the last leg out from under the rickety defenses that had mustered to protect the grotesquely deformed map. The magnitude of the total defeat can be measured by the fact that the North Carolina Republicans have given up on the fight entirely.” – @CharlesPPierce
  • “A great victory for @RedistrictFdn and the voters of North Carolina.” – @marceelias
  • “Regardless, Tuesday’s decision is a huge victory for voting rights in North Carolina, one that will undo one of the nation’s most appalling partisan gerrymanders and clear the way for free and fair elections. It is a triumph for democracy.” – @mjs_DC