News broke Tuesday that a panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina's congressional map, ruling that it constituted an illegal gerrymander. But unlike gerrymandering rulings in the past, the decision had nothing to do with racial or class discrimination, but partisan discrimination.
It is the first time a federal court has struck down congressional maps on the grounds of partisan gerrymandering. The court ordered the General Assembly to redraw the map.
“On its most fundamental level, partisan gerrymandering violates ‘the core principle of republican government . . . that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around,’” states the majority opinion.
The decision is expected to be appealed to the US Supreme Court, which is already considering a partisan gerrymandering case out of Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford.
In October, the high court heard oral argument in the Wisconsin case, which deals with state legislative districts, and is expected to hand down a ruling later this year.
The news out of North Carolina reinvigorated calls for redistricting reform in North Carolina, with many people calling for an independent redistricting commission to draw electoral maps.
Ideally, an independent redistricting commission takes power out of the hands of partisans in the legislature to pick their voters, which further allows them to suppress the voice of voters in the political minority.
Currently, 14 states use a bipartisan or independent redistricting commission or group of some kind to draw state legislative and/or congressional districts. Six of these states use nonpartisan commissions.