There’s a better way than political gerrymandering

| July 2, 2015

FayObservEditorial by Fayetteville Observer, July 2, 2015.

In one of its final decisions before ending its term this week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s use of an independent commission to draw congressional districts.

We hope the leaders of the N.C. Senate took note. The decision gives them one less reason to resist a bipartisan initiative to create a redistricting commission here.

The latest redrawing of North Carolina’s congressional districts has brought several lawsuits. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered one such case, in which former state Sen. Margaret Dickson of Fayetteville is lead plaintiff, back to the state Supreme Court for further consideration. The order was based on a finding that Alabama relied too heavily on race in drawing its districts, which the North Carolina suit alleged as well.

That court decision sparked another federal suit in May, which includes four Cumberland County plaintiffs. That suit also claims unconstitutional gerrymandering based on race.

Shortly after the high court upheld Arizona’s redistricting commission, it also agreed to hear charges next fall that the commission wrongly used race and party membership in drawing state legislative districts. The decision in that case may well influence the North Carolina suits.

Lawsuits against redistricting are a North Carolina tradition, and they won’t end with these cases. Redistricting has always been done for political advantage, no matter which party was in charge.

That’s why 63 members of the N.C. House have endorsed an initiative to move redistricting out of the General Assembly and give it to a nonpartisan commission. The supporters are bipartisan, joined by former Govs. Jim Hunt, a Democrat, and Jim Martin, a Republican. Rep. Paul Stam, the Republican House speaker pro tem, has led efforts for the commission in the House. But Senate leaders won’t hear of it. In January, Senate Rules chair Tom Apodaca said no redistricting bill will have any chance in the Senate. “It’s dead. It’s not going anywhere,” he said. Senate leader Phil Berger appears to agree.

That’s unfortunate, because North Carolina’s voters are ready for a change, and there is broad support for it.

It’s also clear that the nation’s highest court is paying attention to excesses in redistricting zeal, especially when they involve race – which happened in this state’s last redrawing of electoral maps.

A redistricting commission could make that problem go away, and create some sensible district lines for the first time in generations.

Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

Comments (6)

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  1. Norm Kelly says:

    I will once again add my voice to those who have already expressed the right and correct sentiment.
    Where were the libs when they ruled Raleigh? Did they ever vote on a change to gerry? Where were the media-type allies of the lib party when it came to gerry?
    And as for the sad crap about ‘too much emphasis on race’, this is an absolutely disgusting argument being put forth by libs and their media allies. We expect such ridiculousness flowing from the Rev. Buffet Slayer. He tends to spew so much garbage that he’s not worth listening to. When he speaks truth, then I’ll listen. But just like the current occupier, not worth listening to; too little truth to wade through all the misinformation and untruths.
    We must all remember, including media allies of the Socialist Party, that it was indeed the socialists that decided and went to court to enforce drawing districts across the nation based SOLELY and STRICTLY on race. Now it’s libs/socialists/media allies who want to claim that Republicans across the nation took TOO MUCH stock in race? Libs/socialists/media allies want to determine when there’s too few blacks? The same ill-informed group also want to determine when there’s too MANY blacks? But socialists and their media allies have told us for DECADES that only a black can represent a black. So, put blacks in their own districts JUST LIKE THEIR supposed LEADERS HAVE BEEN TELLING US TO DO! But, oh, no, only a socialist gets to determine if there are too many or too few. There apparently MUST be a few token whites in the district in order to pass muster with socialists & black (supposed) leaders.
    (why is it that people like the rev buffet slayer are considered leaders of the black community? when was the last time that nut-j0b gave the slightest hint that blacks are capable. of anything? he’s on a rant now to tell us that blacks can’t identify themselves to be properly registered to vote, can’t get to the voting place on their own, and can’t afford $2 PER YEAR for a picture ID. so if he thinks so little of these people, why do they accept him as a leader? and why would he want to lead such incompetent people?)

    • Richard L Bunce says:

      Per Federal government guidelines since the 1990 and in the Census instructions since at least 2000, “race” is a social construct based on self identification. There is no right or wrong “race” answer on the Census form, no way to validate the answer. There is no genetic test for “race” as there are no races in our species. The respondents Census “race” answer can change every 10 years. There is talk of not having a “race” question in the Census form in 2020.

      Here is the issue though… the 14th Amendment and Civil Rights Act… and their effects on redistricting and use of Census “race” data. Admittedly the 14th Amendment and Civil Rights Act were passed before our knowledge of genetics really existed. It is now however quit developed and so it seems insane that the US DoJ can redraw voting districts based on self identification answers to the Census “race” question. Some court of law at some point will get the right challenge and this whole house of cards will collapse.

  2. bruce stanley says:

    Democrats need to wait about another 9 decades under GOP districting for the GOP to be square, and then discuss an independent redistricting commission. 🙂

  3. Richard L Bunce says:

    There is a better way but that is not the so called independent redistricting commission… as long as humans are involved there will be gerrymandering.

    The solution is to remove human involvement and limit the inputs to the computer algorithms to just number of districts, area to be divided, population distribution in the area, and perhaps County lines. No other demographic data allowed. No sex, age, political affiliation, “race”, ethnicity, religion, voting frequency, etc data allowed. Here is an example.

  4. Frank Burns says:

    This idea is worth considering in about 10 years from now so that the GOP can enjoy the benefits of gerrymandering after the Democrats used it for so many years without challenge from the press.

    • Richard L Bunce says:

      You should not be so confident about the 2020 State Legislature elections… that is what caught the Dems out in 2010.