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Could Democracy Return to North Carolina?


North Carolina has not had a functioning democratic system since the Republican takeover in 2011. Its extreme gerrymandering is just one of the consequences but it’s probably the most important given that it protects these fascists from challenge. That may be about to end.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel delivered a major blow against Republican gerrymandering when it struck down North Carolina’s state Senate and state House districts for violating the rights of Democratic voters.

The state court ruled that these maps, designed to entrench Republican rule, ran afoul of the state constitution’s guarantee of free and fair elections. These illegal districts were so extreme that they helped Republicans to maintain their legislative majorities in 2018’s elections even though Democratic candidates won more votes statewide. If fairer districts are implemented for 2020, they could put Democrats in striking distance of a majority in one or both chambers.

Importantly, because this case was litigated solely under North Carolina’s state constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year that the U.S. Constitution prohibits challenges to partisan gerrymandering did not present an obstacle to the plaintiffs. And for the same reason, this decision should be insulated from federal review, much like a ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last year that replaced a Republican congressional gerrymander with a much fairer map.

Even better, it looks like the North Carolina GOP is giving up the fight, knowing there is no hope.

This is a really important moment.

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