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Federal court strikes down North Carolina redistricting plan

[JURIST] A three-judge panel in the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina [official website] struck down [opinion, PDF] North Carolina's 2016 congressional redistricting plan Tuesday.

The case was brought by consolidated plaintiffs Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina [advocacy websites], among others, who argued that the districts constitute a partisan gerrymander in violation of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I, Sections 2 and 4 of the Constitution.

In a nearly 200-page opinion, James Wynn Jr., who usually sits on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, but was a member of a special panel [JURIST report] for this case, said, "a wealth of evidence proves the General Assembly's intent to 'subordinate' the interests of non-Republican voters and 'entrench' Republican domination of the state's congressional delegation."

The court ordered the General Assembly to redraw districts over the next two weeks, and said that it would also appoint a special master to rework maps.

District drawing in North Carolina has been found unconstitutional before. In May the US Supreme Court held [JURIST report] North Carolina's state-level redistricting was unconstitutional.

This ruling is also especially significant because the Supreme Court is set to hear Gill v. Whitford [JURIST report], a case out of Wisconsin, which may set precedent in deciding whether partisan gerrymandering may be unconstitutional.

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