by WorldTribune Staff, December 4, 2017
The plan drawn up by a Stanford University law professor to reshape North Carolina’s voting districts is being lauded by state Democratic leaders. Republicans condemned it as a political power play.
Nathaniel Persily on Dec. 1 submitted proposed voting district changes in Wake, Cumberland, Guilford, Hoke, Mecklenburg, Bladen, Sampson and Wayne counties.
He had been tasked by federal judges on Nov. 1 to review state House and Senate maps adopted by legislators in August.
A three-judge panel has scheduled a Jan. 5 hearing on Persily’s report.
North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement: “The independent, non-partisan special master had one task – to fix Republicans’ unconstitutional racial gerrymander after Speaker (Tim) Moore and Leader (Phil) Berger refused. NCDP applauds the special master for doing just that, and for giving voters in the affected districts a chance to pick their representatives again instead of the other way around. Republicans made this bed and now they must lie in it, and their efforts to delegitimize the special master and our judicial system are dangerous and destructive.”
Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice representing the challengers, also had praise for Persily’s work.
“We appreciate the hard work done by Dr. Persily to make sure that North Carolinians have fair districts and an equal voice in our democracy,” Riggs said in a statement. “It appears he took into account all of the feedback he received from plaintiffs and defendants.”
In a statement, Republican Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County and Republican Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County, said: “By making many changes Democrats demanded, Mr. Persily has confirmed our worst suspicions: this entire ‘judicial process’ is little more than a thinly-veiled political operation where unelected judges, legislating from the bench, strip North Carolinians of their constitutional right to self-governance by appointing a left-wing California professor to draw districts handing Democrats control of legislative seats they couldn’t win at the ballot box.”
In his report to the judges, Persily said his recommended plan eliminates “all of the constitutional infirmities the Court has identified in the plans enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017.”
The judges – James Wynn of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder, both of the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina – ordered new election district lines to be drawn up after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the judges’ 2016 ruling that found nine of the state Senate districts and 19 of the state House districts to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
According to an analysis by the Raleigh News & Observer, Persily’s maps were redrawn in mostly urban counties that tend to favor Democrats. Most of the districts drawn in August favor Republicans, according to the analysis.