Federal Court Appoints for Special Master in Racial Gerrymander Case, As Requested by NC NAACP

October 26, 2017
Contact: Tyler Swanson, tyler.swanson@naacpnc.org

Federal Court Appoints for Special Master in Racial Gerrymander Case,
As Requested by NC NAACP

Durham – Earlier this month, NC NAACP requested that the federal three-judge panel overseeing the remedy for the General Assembly’s egregious 2011 racial gerrymander of legislative districts in Covington v. North Carolina appoint an independent special master to assist the court in ensuring fair maps to govern state legislative elections in 2018.  Today, the panel announced its intent to appoint a special master and identified Stanford Law School Professor Nathaniel Persily as the likely appointee. 

Newly elected NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, said, “NC NAACP has made it clear that we will not rest until we ensure that the voices of the people who have been directly affected by this egregious discrimination are fully present in the courtrooms, in the streets, and at the ballot box! For years, our organization and the movement we serve has stood for the right of all people in NC to participate in free and fair elections. We are pleased that the Court intends to appoint a special master to provide necessary, unbiased guidance, and cure the racially discriminatory maps created by the extremist-controlled legislature.”

In the order released today, the panel expressed concern that the remedial maps proposed by the General Assembly last month “either fail to remedy the identified constitutional violation or are otherwise legally unacceptable.”  In the amicus brief filed with the Court earlier this month, the NC NAACP argued that the General Assembly’s remedial maps remained tainted with race discrimination and did not pass constitutional muster. Read the Amicus Brief we filed with the Court.

“The people of North Carolina have now voted under unconstitutional and illegally-drawn election maps for more than half a decade,” said Dr. Spearman.  “The legislature has shamefully spent more than $4 million defending these unconstitutional maps, while cutting that amount from the textbook and supplies budget of our schools.  When given an opportunity to remedy its racial gerrymander, the leadership of the General Assembly squandered it.  Now the Court must appoint a special master do the very task we elect and pay our legislators to do– draw maps that are unbiased, non-discriminatory, and create a democracy of the People, by the People, and for the People.”



Special Master Ordered in North Carolina Racial Gerrymandering Case – Southern Coalition For Social Justice

imagePhoto taken by Curmilus Dancy II The DCN in Wilson NC. Click on photo for more photos and video. 
The Watch Dog response: Thank you Anita Earls and all of the folk who have made this happen.
GREENSBORO, N.C. – A federal three-judge panel has appointed a “special master” to “assist the Court in evaluating” the districts that Plaintiffs explained either failed to cure the racial gerrymandering the court unanimously found in 2016 or violate the state constitution.  The Special Master will also help in “developing an appropriate plan remedying any problem with” districts in the plan adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly in August 2017 that the court may find inappropriate as a remedy. The remedial redistricting process took place after the same three-judge panel found 28 districts to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in 2016.

The order announces the court’s intention to appoint Professor Nathaniel Persily, a professor at the Stanford School of Law, as the special master to review the redistricting proposal.  The full court order can be read at http://bit.ly/SpecialMaster.

Anita Earls, Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and lead attorney for plaintiffs in the case, issued the following statement after receiving the court’s order: (Southern Coalition For Social Justice)

Cooper says he’ll call special session on redistricting – News & Observer


Gov. Roy Cooper, trying to put pressure on lawmakers to redraw state House and Senate election maps within the next two weeks, said he would call for a 14-day special session of the legislature.

The session Cooper plans to call would run simultaneously with the ongoing regular session, which is due to end some time this summer. He said such a concurrent session is rare but not unprecedented.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling that found 28 legislative districts to be illegal racial gerrymanders that diluted the overall influence of black voters.

“That means Republican politicians have been picking their voters instead of voters picking their politicians,” Cooper said Wednesday. “They’ve rigged the system and it’s just wrong.”

But the justices vacated an order by the lower court to redraw the maps and hold special elections in 2017 in the changed districts. That three-judge panel will now reconsider the means of correcting the problem.

Cooper said the special session would start Thursday. (Read more)

Clarence Thomas Joins Liberals, Shocks World – Slate

A strange Supreme Court alliance just struck a blow against racial gerrymandering in the United States.

By Mark Joseph Stern

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the memorial service for his former colleague Antonin Scalia on March 1, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision holding that two congressional districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Constitution. The broad ruling will likely have ripple effects on litigation across the country, helping plaintiffs establish that state legislatures unlawfully injected race into redistricting. And, in a welcome change, the decision did not split along familiar ideological lines: Justice Clarence Thomas joined the four liberal justices to create a majority, following his race-blind principles of equal protection to an unusually progressive result.

Cooper v. Harris, Monday’s case, involves North Carolina’s two most infamous congressional districts, District 1 and District 12. In the 1990s, the Democratic-controlled state legislature gerrymandered both districts into bizarre shapes that appeared to be drawn along racial lines. (Read more)

Supreme Court rules NC congressional districts gerrymandered – WRAL

The Watch Dog response: Congressman G.K. Butterfield told us on Saturday at the 1st Congressional District Convention to be on the look out for the court ruling. Oops here it is.

By Matthew Burns and Cullen Browder

Washington — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower-court ruling that North Carolina lawmakers relied too much on race when redrawing two congressional districts after the 2010 census.

The ruling doesn’t affect the 2016 elections or future elections because state lawmakers redrew the congressional voting map shortly after the February 2016 ruling, but it could set the stage for a similar ruling regarding North Carolina’s legislative districts, which were challenged on the same grounds.

A panel of three federal judges determined that the 1st Congressional District, which spread like an octopus across northeast North Carolina and has a tentacle that dips into Durham County, and the 12th Congressional District, which snaked along Interstate 85 between Greensboro and Charlotte, were drawn specifically so that the majority of voters in each were black. (Read more)

Key Question for Supreme Court: Will It Let Gerrymanders Stand? – New York Times

Georgia and last week in Kansas had the feel of the first rounds of an epic battle next year for control of the House of Representatives and the direction of national politics as the Trump presidency unfolds.

But for all the zeal on the ground, none of it may matter as much as a case heading to the Supreme Court, one that could transform political maps from City Hall to Congress — often to Democrats’ benefit.

A bipartisan group of voting rights advocates says the lower house of the Wisconsin Legislature, the State Assembly, was gerrymandered by its Republican majority before the 2012 election — so artfully, in fact, that Democrats won a third fewer Assembly seats than Republicans despite prevailing in the popular vote. In November, in a 2-to-1 ruling, a panel of federal judges agreed. (Read more)