NC GOP Legislators’ Legal Case ‘Threatens Democracy’
Will US Supreme Court allow extreme gerrymandering for 2024 and beyond?
NC Republicans asked the US Supreme Court to throw out congressional district maps that give Democrats a fair chance to increase representation. The rationale: only state legislatures, not courts, have authority over redistricting and voter ID laws. The high court in late June 2022 agreed, with four justices signaling they may approve of the idea.
WAPO: “Democracy advocates raise alarm after Supreme Court takes election case. The decision to consider “independent legislature theory” concerned voting rights advocates who say state lawmakers could twist the election laws to favor their party.”
If the high court adopts this “fringe constitutional theory,” it could mean “the end of democracy,” two Salon authors contend.
The case will not affect the 2022 NC congressional district maps, which were imposed by the state Supreme Court and which Democrats consider fair but which Republicans fear give Democrats an advantage.
Some Republicans eager to bend the voting rules in their favor, so they can not only win Congress but the presidency as well, no matter if they lose the popular vote. Will Doran in the Raleigh N&O observed: “The 2020 campaign of Republican President Donald Trump used similar logic to argue that states with Republican-controlled legislatures should have been able to give their electoral votes to Trump, even if the people of the state voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden.”
Since 2012, NC Republican legislators have engaged in extreme gerrymandering and chosen their own voters, thereby dominating public policy in the state even though voters tend to be almost evenly divided. Since 2017, a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, has provided some checks and balances against Republicans’ most extreme elements. He has vetoed more bills than any other NC governor.
Republicans claim they are just continuing the practice of gerrymandering started by Democrats in the 1900s when NC was controlled by one party: segregationist Dixiecrats. Until 1972, Democrats swept governorships, state legislatures, and held both US Senate seats. That year, Republican Jim Holshouser won the governorship and former Dixiecrat turned Republican Jesse Helms won a seat in the US Senate.
Conservative columnist John Hood recalls the battleground nature of North Carolina politics since 2008, when Barack Obama won the state and a female Democratic senator followed on his coattails.
Republicans came roaring back in 2010, winning both houses of the legislature. “Vastly outspent and forced to run in Democratic-drawn districts, (Republicans nevertheless) won majorities in both chambers. They proceeded to draw districts highly favorable to the GOP, losing a string of court cases but continuing to reelect legislative majorities, anyway, in part because of ongoing shifts in the partisan preferences of rural and suburban voters,” Hood wrote. They’ve held the legislature and dominated the congressional delegation ever since.
He didn’t mention, however, that both the 2010 and 2014 elections, when Republicans won the most seats, had extremely low turnout. Nationally, voter turnout in 2014 was lowest in 70 years. Just 36.4 percent of eligible voters turned out. Click.
He also didn’t mention that in 2012, 2016 and 2020, when Republican presidential candidates narrowly won North Carolina, and Democrat Cooper won the governorship (in 2016 and 2020), the state legislative districts were so gerrymandered in favor of Republicans that they won huge not narrow majorities.