North Carolina rights groups file lawsuit against state redistricting plans News
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North Carolina rights groups file lawsuit against state redistricting plans

Two prominent voting rights advocacy groups sued Republican state leadership in North Carolina on Tuesday over the state’s redistricting plans. The groups argue that the plans will disenfranchise Black voters and make Democratic majorities impossible in the state. Under the new map, which split several Democratic districts and attached the pieces to red-leaning rural areas, it is unlikely that the Republicans would ever win less than 10 out of 14 in an election.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed the suit in partnership with Common Cause. The groups brought action under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the US Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and 42 USC § 1983. This provision of the US Code provides that any individual or local government that deprives a citizen of their rights shall be liable to civil action for the injuries caused.

The Republican majority redrew state legislative and congressional districts in October, which Common Cause says was to “severely diminish the voting power of Black voters in North Carolina.” Specifically, the organization says that the new maps “surgically” target Black areas of the state in a manner that amounts to gerrymandering. Under the Supreme Court decision Allen v. Milligan, states are required to consider racial criteria when redistricting to avoid diluting the voting power of protected groups. The rights groups say that the North Carolina legislature did not include these criteria when redistricting the state. They also say that the process was unusually rushed to avoid an opportunity for review before the 2024 election. The complaint says:

… the General Assembly targeted predominantly Black voting precincts with surgical precision throughout the state in drawing and enacting the 2023 Plans, at the expense of traditional redistricting criteria, to achieve preferred district lines that diminish Black voters’ ability to elect candidates of their choice at all levels of government.

The action names several key figures in the North Carolina State House, including Speaker of the House Timothy Moore and Destin Hall, who serves as the Chair of the North Carolina House of Representatives Redistricting Committee. Representative Hall was named in a previous gerrymandering case in April of this year. In that case, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that it did not have the authority to overturn redistricting maps, as it would violate the separation of powers. Destin Hall and other Republicans insist that whether or not they win, their performance in the new districts will be based on whether voters align with their principles.

In April, North Carolina Republicans gained a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature when longtime Democratic state representative Tricia Cotham switched over to the GOP.

The action against North Carolina is not the only ongoing voting rights litigation in the country. Rights groups have recently challenged redistricting maps in Georgia, Tennessee, North Dakota, Louisiana, Alabama, and South Carolina.