In an interview aired today on Charlotte’s WFAE News, SCSJ Executive Director Anita Earls discussed the history and current state of North Carolina’s protracted redistricting battle as well as what the long-awaited N.C. Supreme Court ruling on the matter will mean for the state’s electoral future. The transcript of the full story is posted below. Three […]
(NOTE: SCSJ represents nonpartisan civil rights plaintiff groups in this lawsuit) By GARY D. ROBERTSON — Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. — Opponents of the new boundaries for North Carolina General Assembly and congressional seats are again asking the state Supreme Court to force an associate justice to recuse himself from coming arguments on the maps’ […]
Recently Slate writer David Weigel wrote a detailed article discussing the effects of racial gerrymandering on politics in North Carolina, one of the states where SCSJ is deeply engaged in voting rights work. In addressing redistricting issues in North Carolina, Weigel writes that the state underwent a 2011 redistricting overhaul at the hands of a […]
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice represented several statewide nonpartisan groups seeking to overturn racially packed voting districts in North Carolina through a series of cases known as Dickson v. Rucho and NAACP v. NC. On July 8, 2013, a three-judge panel in North Carolina state court unanimously rejected all challenges to the 2011 redistricting plans for […]
SCSJ, representing the NAACP, League of Women Voters, Democracy NC, A. Philip Randolph Institute and individual voters from around the state, presented evidence of why the state’s legislative and congressional redistricting plans violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Candidates elected by coalitions of African-American and white voters […]
On Monday, the United States Department of Justice objected to a proposed reduction in the size and method of election of the Pitt County Board of Education. The changes were the result of a local bill passed by the General Assembly last year. On behalf of the North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches, SCSJ filed a comment letter with DOJ, explaining how the proposed change would be retrogressive for black voters in the county. DOJ agreed that the change would make black voters worse off, and issued an objection letter on April 30.
Attached are the comment letter filed by SCSJ and the DOJ Objection Letter.
Last Friday SCSJ staff attorney, Allison Riggs, represented the Florida NAACP in asking the Supreme Court to declare the new Senate redistricting plan constitutionally invalid. She argued that in invalidating the first Senate plan earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court had not factored in the effects of racially polarized voting in determining whether a district with a dramatically reduced black voting age population, will still allow black voters to elect the candidates of their choice. The redrawn Senate plan would have significant negative effects on minority voters in Northeast Florida. The position of the NAACP is that the evidence before the Court indicated that there still is, especially in northeast Florida, a substantial amount of racially polarized voting, and that black voters cannot rely on white crossover voters. She showed how redrawn Senate districts in which the BVAP has been dramatically lowered, those districts violate the state constitutional prohibition on diminishing the ability of minority voters to elect the candidates of their choice.
It is expected that a decision will be made by next Friday.
To read some of the press coverage see:
SCSJ staff attorney, Allison Riggs is taking the lead representing the Florida NAACP in a heated redistricting battle over senate districts 9 (Duval County) and 31 (Broward County). Earlier this year the state Supreme Court invalidated the first redrawn senate plan and the senate was forced to try again. Now that the new plans have been proposed, Riggs and her co-counsel are arguing that the plans diminish the ability of African Americans in those districts to elect candidates of their choice and are in violation to the state’s constitutional amendment to protect minority voting rights. Riggs says, “Our issue is that we are arguing that they really haven’t looked at racially polarized voting. They have looked at some election data but it is not sufficient. We are going to argue in front of the Florida Supreme Court that no one is taking into proper account what is necessary for black voters or any voters of color.”
From NC Senate Redistricting Committee Chair Bob Rucho says that the state redistricting process is more transparent than ever before. But Rucho does not plan to release drafts of maps until after public hearings have already taken place. NC Senate Redistricting Committee Chair Bob Rucho says that the state redistricting process is more transparent than […]
Follow the link above for video coverage.
By Heather Moore
RALEIGH – North Carolina lawmakers are working to redraw legislative and congressional district lines, which historically has been a very political process. It happens every 10 years after census numbers are released.
Wednesday, the public got their first chance to tell lawmakers what they expect of the redistricting process and the new lines. Redrawing district lines impacts how many lawmakers represent an area and exactly which area they’re representing.
In the past, it could even play a role in who would win the election by creating districts of like-minded voters, a political tactic called gerrymandering.
“My concerns are that minorities will be packed into certain districts under several gerrymandering techniques that have been used in the past,” said Jessica Holmes with the Alliance for Fair Redistricting and Minority Voting Rights.
But state lawmakers say they’re taking extra steps this year to make the redistricting process as fair and open as possible.
“The gerrymandering as it’s been in the past has pretty much been eliminated by the fact the courts have responded, especially the North Carolina Supreme Court,” explained Senator Bob Rucho, a Republican representing Mecklenburg County and Chairman of the Redistricting Committee. “There are certain times we’re going to have districts that may be spread out but there’s a reason for it legally, whether they follow the Voting Rights Act or whether they follow whole county or whatever it may be, but legally there’s a reason for that occurring.”
Lawmakers are holding at least twelve public hearings all across the state to get input about the redistricting process.
Concerned citizens say they appreciate the opportunity to participate.
“I’m very excited they have spread these public hearings across the state,” Holmes said. “I’m happy about this process. I’m happy about this opportunity to come here and give my public input.”
RALEIGH, N.C. – Redistricting is on the agenda for legislative districts across North Carolina now that the latest population from the 2010 U.S Census have been released, with the information and decision in the hands of the Republican-controlled State Assembly. The makeup of the legislature could change significantly and to the disadvantage of Democratic legislators.
The process is governed by federal law and court rulings, but such citizens as Arthur Griffin, a member of the Mecklenberg County Committee on Redistricting, say it’s important for voters to watch the process with a close eye.
“It’s really important that it’s an open and transparent process and that citizens from all walks of life have an opportunity to be heard.”
The release of the Census data marks the beginning of this process, one that could likely take several months to complete.
Political agendas often come into play, explains Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and that’s why she says voters must be involved starting now.
“People want a (district) line to be one place or another, and it’s only with a fair and open process you get a plan that results in a good representative government.”
The statewide redistricting plans for State Assembly and congressional seats must be submitted and approved by January of 2012.
Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service – NC
SCSJ Executive Director Anita Earls speaks on a panel about the role of race in the drawing of congressional and state legislative districts after the 2010 Census
Click here to view the video.
Presented by Alliance for Justice
Sponsored by the Ford Foundation
Click here to register for the webinar.
From the NABJ website:
“Among the unreported subjects that are expected to emerge as a hot button issue after the mid-term election is redistricting and how our main political parties will be affected by the results of the recently completed U. S. Census.
To learn more about this subject and develop enterprise ideas, please join the NABJ Media Institute webinar, “Deciphering the Numbers: The Untold Stories of Redistricting.” This free webinar will be held on Wednesday, December 15th at 11:00 a.m. (EST) and will feature Anita S. Earls, Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Charles Robinson, Correspondent/Associate Producer, Maryland Public Television, NABJ Region II Director.
The webinar will explain the impact of redistricting on voting patterns and ultimately our system of government. In addition, the discussion will also explain the numbers behind re-districting and how to disseminate accurate and insightful information..
This webinar is for journalists serious about improving their ability to capture unique content for their organizations and the eventual dissemination of information that could help journalists develop new stories and hence a more explanatory way of news reporting. News managers, producers and especially local reporters are highly encouraged to attend.”
Click here to register.
Anita Earls works to make the voting process more open and transparent Written by Anthony Maglione See link for audio. More information coming soon.
August 3, 5:21 PMNC Statehouse Examiner, Martha Brock
Anita Earls has a resume that could easily land her a high paying job litigating for a top law firm. In fact her first job after graduation from Yale Law was with the famous civil rights firm headed by Julius Chambers. Earls later served in the Clinton Administration as Janet Reno’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at US Department of Justice.
Instead of cashing in on her impressive credentials and experience Earls works for a small non-profit group in Durham. Earls is executive director and founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), a position she has held since September 2007. From 2003 to 2007, she was director of advocacy at the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
She is also one of the three Democrats appointed by Governor Perdue to the State Board of Elections in 2009. She was one of the two new appointees, the other being Republican William Peasley of Raleigh.
The SCSJ has a wide scope of action and its goals are to
1. Create a worker-managed entity that is a fulfilling community to nurture and sustain social justice work and workers.
2. Provide the highest quality legal advice and to poor and minority communities engaged in social change efforts.
3. Bring the best social science research (whether litigation or policy-related), communications strategies and community organizing skills to serve community priorities.
4. Have substantive priorities that are community-determined.
5. Build coalitions across community lawyering organizations in the South and between national organizations and local community groups
Recent projects have centered on promoting work involving the census so that everyone, especially minorities, who are traditionally under-counted, can be included in the 2010 Census.
The work on the Census is key to its current priority, preparing for the redistricting state legislatures in 2011. Earls has extensive experience in voting rights litigation and argued a case involving two US House Districts in NC before the US Supreme Court defending the maps drawn by the NC General Assembly.
Two training sessions were sponsored last week in Durham in preparation for the upcoming redistricting in 2011. The expert witness for attorneys training was closed to the public, but the other people who participated are experts in cartography (map making). The session for attorneys lasted all week and ended on Saturday, July 31.
Earls says, “We already know generally about the populations shifts and we need the final census data.” Then her group will focus on “resdistricting and getting legislatures to represent all citizens at all levels of governments from the local school board to the federal level.”
While SCSJ works with several Souherrn states including North Carolina, Earls is very familiar with NC and its voting patterns and problems resulting from past mapping used to create the voting districts. She says that the population shift in NC has meant that the population in the East, where the minority population numbers are high, has fallen. Most of the growth has been in urban areas including the Raleigh-Durham area and Mecklenburg County.
Earls says SCSJ really wants to see the process of creating the US House Districts and legislative districts a more open and transparent process. “We want to make it so a citizens’ organization could propose their own redistricting map–for example, the Wake School Board.districts.”
“Maybe three or four community groups could form coalitions and could work together.”
The organization’s web site has a wealth of information on voting rights and related topics. To check it out go
What does it mean to not have a meaningful opportunity to elect candidates of your choice? And what does that have to do with redistricting, the redrawing of election districts in our communities based on census numbers?
Many of us – especially low-wealth communities of color – already know what it means because the local candidates we vote for never get elected. A long history of unjust redistricting intended to split and dilute our voting strength is one of the main culprits, but we can prevent that history from repeating.
Last week, SCSJ convened a week-long Expert Preparation and Community Education Program as part of the Community Census & Redistricting Institute. Held in Durham, NC, the program trained folks traditionally involved with redistricting – social scientists, map-makers and lawyers – and joined them with representatives from community organizations. Over 100 participants throughout the country came together to discuss the importance of empowering grassroots low-wealth communities of color to promote fair representation during the 2011 redistricting round.
We left with an understanding that redistricting is about equity and fairness, not simply about the shape of an electoral district. The process of redrawing districts does not happen without people, and the people who are directly affected – those living within the communities where districts are drawn – must be involved in the process.
Check out the Community Census & Redistricting Institute’s webpage for updates as we continue to build the site as a clearinghouse of information for folks looking to get involved with redistricting their own communities.
GREENSBORO, N.C. – It’s a story that seems like it was ripped from the script of a TV movie, but for a North Carolina immigrant this tale of abuse sheds light on the many challenges immigrants face when the system breaks down. As part of a plea agreement, a Durham immigration officer admitted to threatening a woman with deportation if she did not have sex with him. The officer, Bedri Kulla, met the immigrant and single mother on a social networking website, where he claimed to be a flight attendant.
The woman’s lawyer, Marty Rosenbluth, who is a staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, says the woman was put in a drastic position.
“She quite innocently met him for coffee and when they met for coffee he pulls out this badge and says, ‘Oh, I work for immigration and if you don’t go on a date with me I’m going to have you deported.'”
Kulla, who himself is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Canada, lost his job and will be sentenced on August 12 after being found guilty of a federal civil rights violation and two counts of blackmail.
Rosenbluth said the story was hard to believe initially, but easy to prove since Kulla used his real picture on the social networking site, showed up at the woman’s workplace, and sent multiple emails. At one point during his pursuit, Kulla appeared at the victim’s place of work, holding a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a deportation notice in the other.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice routinely handles immigration issues. Rosenbluth says it’s not uncommon for people to take advantage of an immigrant’s situation.
“It is a really clear cut example of how, you know, people just think they can do whatever they want to folks who are undocumented, but she stood up and said, ‘No, I’m not going to be a victim, you’re not going to do this to me.'”
The woman is now eligible for U.S. citizenship through a special provision for victims of crime.
Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service – NC
Written by Anthony Maglione
See link for audio.
More information coming soon.