Good piece about what the Hofeller emails reveal about the North Carolina gerrymander and how it was put together:
Perhaps one of the clearest and ugliest gerrymanders in North Carolina—or in the entire nation—is the congressional-district line that cuts in half the nation’s largest historically black college, North Carolina A&T State University, in Greensboro. The district line divided this majority minority campus—and the city—so precisely that it all but guarantees it will be represented in Congress by two Republicans for years to come. North Carolina Republicans have long denied that this line, between the state’s Sixth and Thirteenth Congressional Districts, was intentionally drawn to dilute black voting power, which would be a violation of the constitutional prohibition against racial gerrymandering.
Hofeller’s files, though, show that he created giant databases that detailed the racial makeup, voting patterns, and residence halls of more than a thousand North Carolina A&T students. He also collected similar data that tracked the race, voting patterns, and addresses of tens of thousands of other North Carolina college students. Some spreadsheets have more than fifty different fields with precise racial, gender, and geographic details on thousands of college voters.
A spreadsheet named “NC College Voters for ZIP ID” contains voter data for more than 23,100 North Carolina university students, including thousands in Greensboro. The detail for the North Carolina A&T students is precise: students are sorted by residence hall. That means that Hofeller knew which A&T students lived in Aggie Village, on the north side of campus, and which resided in Morrow or Vanstory Halls, on the south side—along with a detailed racial breakdown and information about their voting status. As Hofeller sought to create two reliably Republican congressional districts, his computer contained information on the precise voting tendencies of one of the largest concentrations of black voters in the area.
And if Hofeller cross-referenced that spreadsheet against another included on his hard drive, this one saved as “80 pct College Voters on Non-Match List”—which identified 5,429 North Carolina college students who appeared to lack the necessary I.D. required to cast a ballot at the time he drew the congressional maps—he could have crafted this line along Laurel Street, with even greater specificity about who would and would not be likely to vote.
Read the whole etc. Roberts’s conclusion that it is impossible for courts to do what courts have repeatedly done was transparently wrong. But what is untenable is to draw a bright line between “racial” gerrymanders that are potentially unconstitutional and “partisan” gerrymanders that aren’t, since the most common form of gerrymandering practiced by Republicans advances the party’s partisan interests by diluting the influence of African-American voters. There just isn’t always such smoking gun evidence of the racist intent.
Anyway, gerrymanders like North Carolina’s obviously violate the 14th Amendment, the federal courts are not merely capable but are in the best position to provide a remedy, and Rucho v. Common Cause will age about as well as Colegrove v. Green, i.e. like milk left in a sauna.