A federal three judge panel ruled Friday, February 5, 2016, that NC Congressional Districts 1 and 12 were unconstitutional. US District Judges William Osteen of Greensboro, Max Cogburn of Asheville and US Circuit Judge Roger Gregory of Virginia have given lawmakers until February 19th to redraw the flawed election map for the 1st and 12th districts.
The 12th Congressional district, which is represented by Alma Adams, falls within a stretch along Interstate 85 and is 120 miles long but only 20 miles wide at its widest part and includes large parts of Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro. The 1st Congressional District, represented by G.K. Butterfield, weaves through 24 counties, including parts of Vance, parts of Warren, and all of Granville County. A three plaintiff lawsuit was filed challenging the districts.
The plaintiffs, retired Charlotte teacher Christine Bowser; David Harris, a registered Voter in Durham County; and Samuel Love, a Charlotte registered voter, filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the maps. Their lawsuit alleged that the Republican drawn maps “ignored common rural and agricultural interests” and that “a person traveling on Interstate 85 between the two cities would exit the district multiple times…” The plaintiffs’ lawsuit also alleged that the GOP-led legislature relied too heavily on race to draw the boundary lines.
The federal court’s ruling requires that the 1st and 12th congressional district maps be redrawn, and have given the General Assembly a February 19th deadline. On Monday, February 8th, attorneys for the Republican-led state asked the court to delay the order because of the number of voters who have already cast absentee ballots. The judges have refused the delay, ruling that the harm to North Carolinians, “vastly outweighs the administrative inconvenience and additional cost the state will incur if the primary is delayed and that any further delay in replacing the lines will cause “irreparable harm” to the plaintiffs and other voters.” The court further ruled that, “The General Assembly’s improper use of race to sort voters by the color of their skin has violated the Fourteenth Amendment rights of millions of North Carolinians.”
Rep. Baskerville responded favorably to the judge’s decision. “It is clear to anyone paying attention that these two congressional districts were drawn in a way to dilute minority influence and to guarantee a permanent Republican majority. I look forward to a transparent process where we take out the politics, and draw district lines in a bipartisan manner.”