The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled Monday that 28 of North Carolina’s legislative districts were illegally drawn and racially gerrymandered. This means the NC GOP pack as many African Americans into as few districts as possible in order to maintain a Republican majority in the North Carolina House and Senate. Now that the Supreme Court has officially ruled these districts unconstitutional, it’s time to step up and demand new districts are drawn immediately and special elections are held as soon as possible to get the dozens of illegitimately elected politicians out of Raleigh.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not support the remedy ordered by the three-judge panel, namely that the legislature redraw the districts in a legal fashion and hold a special legislative election in 2017. The three judges wrote in their order, “While special elections have costs, those costs pale in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens to continue to be represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander.”
The Supreme Court, rather unconvincingly, contended that the three judges had not properly considered the cost and disruption of a holding a special election.
In this case, in political rather than strictly legal terms, no consideration is needed. Given the chaos and polarization caused by the Republican majority, whether it be austere budgets, a failure to expand Medicaid, the expense of defending its unconstitutional laws or the damage done by House Bill 2, the benefits of forcing this group to stand in a fair election would be worth any expense.
Indeed, the option of a 2017 vote is still alive. The three-judge panel could offer a more complete explanation for why a special election is needed and new districts could be drawn in time for a vote this fall.
As Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and counsel for the redistricting challengers, said in a statement Monday, “Many North Carolinians have been participating in unfair elections in racially gerrymandered districts for far too long. It’s time to fix this problem.”