Judges Throw Out North Carolina Congressional Maps Ahead of 2020 Elections

The state will have to scramble to draw new maps.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

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North Carolina’s congressional maps were likely designed as “extreme partisan gerrymanders” and must be redrawn before the 2020 election, a panel of three state judges ruled Monday. 

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought by Eric Holder’s group seeking to end gerrymandering. The group challenged maps the Republican state legislature had drawn in 2016, arguing that it was an illegal partisan gerrymander. 

The judges did not set a deadline for the new maps, but the state will have to rush to implement new district lines before next year’s elections.

 

While the US Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that partisan gerrymandering is not unconstitutional, state constitutions can still prohibit the practice. There was ample evidence of a politically motivated gerrymander by North Carolina Republicans, the judges found. The papers of the late Thomas Hofeller—a leading GOP redistricting expert who helped draw North Carolina’s map—created a “detailed record of both the partisan intent and the intended partisan effects of the 2016 congressional districts.” (Hofeller’s estranged daughter provided the documents after his death.)

Earlier this year, the same panel of judges threw out the maps the North Carolina General Assembly drew to elect state legislators. The panel approved new state-level maps. The judicial order for new 2020 maps for Congressional seats “respectfully urges” legislators to create “new legislative districts in a short amount of time in a transparent and bipartisan manner.”

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