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Supreme Court chooses to hear NC gerrymandering case

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a case about Maryland and North Carolina's partisan gerrymandering.

Elections expert Guy-Uriel Charles, Edward and Ellen Schwarzman professor of law, told the News & Observer that there was no clear indication which way the ruling would fall. He said the Supreme Court has historically decided against intervening in redistricting cases, but North Carolina’s case could be extreme enough to strike down.

“I don’t think it’s going to be sweeping,” Charles told the News & Observer. “I think it’s going to be very, very narrow.”

The Supreme Court announced Jan. 4 that the case would be argued in March. In January 2018, the three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled that the Republican-led General Assembly drew districts that unconstitutionally favored the Republican party. 

The Supreme Court sent the case back down to the district court in June, which reaffirmed its previous ruling in August. However, the map was not redrawn for the November midterm elections because of how close the ruling was to the election.

Despite state-wide similar turnout for both parties, Republicans won 10 out of North Carolina’s 13 U.S. House of Representative seats in 2016 and 2018—though Republican Mark Harris’ win in the 9th District has not yet been certified due to fraud allegations.

The effects of a court decision on national politics in 2020, however, would be limited. 

“There is not as much impetus because the Democrats have won the House [of Representatives]. While it is important for justice purposes, equity and politics in general that there be a more even split reflected in North Carolina’s population, it is not going to be as important nationally," said Pope McCorkle, professor of the practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy. "Because the presidential and senatorial race here won’t be affected by the gerrymandering.” 

Jake Satisky | Editor-in-Chief

Jake Satisky is a Trinity senior and the digital strategy director for Volume 116. He was the Editor-in-Chief for Volume 115 of The Chronicle. 


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