‘Thwarted at the U.S. Supreme Court, Holder has turned to state courts with Democratic majorities to… game the redistricting process…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) North Carolina Republicans resigned themselves to permanent Democratic majorities after abandoning a politically charged courtroom fight over partisan gerrymandering in the historically red state.
A North Carolina case, Rucho v. Common Cause, was one of two heard in the landmark SCOTUS ruling, with the other case challenging Democrat-led gerrymandering in Maryland.
But the high court’s decision left it at the discretion of the state courts to interpret whether their own constitutional bylaws prohibited the party in power from drawing politically favorable maps during the decennial redistricting process—typically done by the state legislatures.
A three-judge Superior Court panel from North Carolina sided with left-wingers in a ruling issued Tuesday for a parallel state-level case, also being pressed by the activist group Common Cause.
“The partisan gerrymandering of the 2017 Plans strikes at the heart of the Free Elections Clause” said the ruling.
“Using their control of the General Assembly, Legislative Defendants manipulated district boundaries, to the greatest extent possible, to control the outcomes of individual races so as to best ensure their continued control of the legislature,” it said.
‘Sue Till Blue’
Since 2016, an initiative led by former Attorney General Eric Holder and former President Barack Obama under the umbrella of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee has deployed its “sue till blue” strategy by targeting vulnerable red states with court cases. Currently, it has about a dozen states in its cross-hairs.
“This case is the next step in Eric Holder’s drive to use judges to create a Democratic majority,” wrote North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger in a press release following Tuesday’s ruling.
“Thwarted at the U.S. Supreme Court, Holder has turned to state courts with Democratic majorities to, in his own words, ‘favorably position Democrats’ to game the redistricting process,” Berger said.
Any possible appeal of the recent North Carolina ruling faced grim prospects at the state Supreme Court, where six Democrat justices currently preside and only one Republican.
One of those justices, Anita Earls, had been involved as an attorney in a successful 2016 redistricting effort amid claims of racial gerrymandering, which already forced North Carolina to redraw its legislative maps prior to the 2018 midterm election.
Earls then won her own election to the court last year by unseating incumbent Barbara Jackson under dubious circumstances after another longtime Democrat attorney and activist, Chris Anglin, switched parties right before the filing deadline and split the Republican ticket.
While their plan worked at eliminating a veto-proof super-majority in the state General Assembly, Democrats in North Carolina failed to secure the legislative majorities they had hoped for and again cried foul on the forcibly redrawn districts that they had previously approved.
‘Time To Move On’?
After the latest courtroom defeat, Berger seemed to indicate that the Republican legislators named as defendants in the case would not appeal the ruling, given the unlikely odds of success at the state Supreme Court.
“We disagree with the court’s ruling as it contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent, but we intend to respect the court’s decision and finally put this divisive battle behind us,” he said.
“Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state’s institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point,” Berger continued. “It’s time to move on.”
Unfortunately, the defeat could spell greater troubles for the GOP if the Democrats succeed in forcing maps more favorable to them that would allow them to steal the state legislature.
Many of the activist organizations involved in the “sue till blue” effort have made clear their intentions are to flip the statehouses during next year’s election so that they will be in power during the 2021 round of redistricting and able to create their own gerrymandered maps.
That would leave Republicans with little recourse except to press their own court battles and hope the partisan judges apply the same standards.
Trouble on the Horizon
North Carolina’s fight over the electoral maps is likely to be a bellwether for other states—including its northern neighbor, Virginia, where similar Democrat-led redistricting flipped several congressional seats to the blue column in the 2018 midterm election.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a case pressed by Republican legislators in the Old Dominion lacked standing to be heard and that only the state’s Democrat attorney general, Mark Herring, had the authority to challenge the ruling on its redrawn map.
In response to Democratic activism by Holder and his well-funded NDRC, Republicans have sought to cultivate their own anti-gerrymandering organization, helmed by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a political casualty of the “sue till blue” scheme in his home state last year.
As finance chairman of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, Walker has sought to counterbalance Holder’s heavy-hitting advocacy on the Left.
The two exchanged rhetorical blows last week via Twitter, reported The Hill.
Walker began by exposing Holder’s true intentions with a pair of tweets that included a copy of a 2017 IRS form seeking tax-exempt status for the NDRC.
If anyone tells you that @EricHolder is “fighting against gerrymandering” and for “fair maps,” just look at the form his organization filed with the IRS. The truth: their mission is to “FAVORABLY POSITION DEMOCRATS FOR THE REDISTRICTING PROCESS.” pic.twitter.com/1f6J2SnIlX
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) August 22, 2019
Without addressing the evidence, Holder issued a denial in response, claiming “Scotty” was fudging the facts.
This is so contrary to the facts -things Scotty doesn’t like- and his own efforts to gerrymander for R’s that it’s laughable. The big lie. Challenge: Say-like me-you will support non-partisan commissions to draw the lines. Politicians not in control. (He didn’t in New Hampshire.) https://t.co/jOscvmxuAi
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) August 29, 2019