GREENSBORO, N.C. – Plaintiffs in Covington v. North Carolina filed pleadings with North Carolina’s Middle District Court today, objecting to certain House and Senate districts recently adopted by the state legislature because they do not remedy all of the constitutional violations previously found by the court. The objection also notes that the legislature unnecessarily redrew some legislative districts that were not found to be racial gerrymanders and did not touch any district that was found to be unconstitutional. Altering those districts amounts to mid-decade redistricting, which is prohibited by Article II, Sections 3(4) and 5(4) of the North Carolina Constitution (See http://bit.ly/NCarolinaConstitution,p. 6).
“What we filed today is no different from what we told the General Assembly before they passed these new districts. They failed to cure the illegal use of race in several areas of the state. It is now the Court’s responsibility to fix the problem,” said Anita Earls, Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “Further, the legislature violated the North Carolina Constitution by redrawing districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties that should not have been touched.”
Racial gerrymanders were not cured in four districts
There are two Senate Districts and two House Districts in the newly drawn plan that do not remedy the racial gerrymanders previously found by the court: Senate Districts 21 and 28, and House Districts 21 and 57. Not all districts with high black voting age populations are being challenged by the plaintiffs, though. The objection points out:
Five districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties were unnecessarily redrawn
Aside from its failure to fully cure the racial gerrymanders, the General Assembly also exceeded the authority given to it by the court’s order by redrawing districts that should not have been touched. This violation of the state constitutional prohibition on mid-decade redistricting was found in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. The objection points out that House Districts 36, 37, 40, and 41 in Wake County and House District 105 in Mecklenburg County should not have been redrawn during the redistricting process. (Covington Objection, p. 35-37)
As part of the legislative redistricting process, the Covington plaintiffs submitted a redistricting proposal that cured the racial gerrymandering violations and did not run afoul of the state constitution by redrawing districts that should have been left untouched. The General Assembly rejected those maps.
Given the unconstitutionality of the redistricting plan adopted by the General Assembly, the objection asks the court to order the state to conduct the 2018 state legislative elections using the recently enacted:
“We are asking the court to step up and do what the legislature has continually failed to do – give North Carolinians fair districts that do not discriminate or violate the state constitution,” Earls concluded.
All of the documents related to this filing can be found at http://www.southerncoalition.org/covingtonobjection/
On July 31, 2017, North Carolina’s Middle District Court ordered the North Carolina General Assembly to redraw legislative maps by September 1, 2017 in order to remedy the unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The legislature adopted new maps on August 30, 2017.
Plaintiffs were required to file any objections to the newly draw district plans by September 15, 2017.