Judges, Plaintiffs Frustrated with GOP Delays in Redrawing Gerrymandered Districts | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Friday, July 28, 2017

Judges, Plaintiffs Frustrated with GOP Delays in Redrawing Gerrymandered Districts

Posted by on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 9:29 AM

click to enlarge Anita Earls is interviewed outside the federal courthouse Thursday. - TOOD TURNER
  • Tood Turner
  • Anita Earls is interviewed outside the federal courthouse Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge James Wynn scolded state legislative attorneys at a hearing in Greensboro Thursday, saying that weighing the costs and benefits of redistricting should no longer be their concern. Now was the time to act, and they needed to stop dragging their feet.

“We want the legislature to do its job,” he said. “We are in the remedy phase now.”

Wynn is a member of the three-judge panel that found twenty-eight state House and Senate districts racially gerrymandered last year and instructed lawmakers to redraw the unconstitutional maps and to hold special elections. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision on racial gerrymanders but remanded the case on the issue of special elections.

Senior deputy attorney general Alexander Peters, who represents the state and the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, did not take a position on a redrawing timeline or a special election, but other attorneys defending the legislature’s actions strongly opposed both the plaintiffs’ proposed two-week timeline for redistricting and a special election ahead of the next legislative session.

When Judge Catherine Eagles asked legislative attorney Phil Strach—who is married to Kim Strach, the executive director of the State Board of Elections—why legislators are advocating for such a drawn-out process, he said the legislature’s timeline prioritizes public input, whereas the plaintiffs’ request would compress time for public hearings.

“Well, that’s your own fault,” Eagles retorted.

Eagles and Wynn reminded Strach and his team that legislators could and should have acted on redrawing the maps last year. “You had to have known the case would be affirmed [by the Supreme Court],” Wynn added.

Attorney Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who is representing the plaintiffs, pointed out that remedial redistricting is a simpler process than what occurs after each census, and that the sole purpose is to fix gerrymandered districts, not revise the state’s map. Earls said the judges must weigh the value of the proposed public hearings against the value of candidates of all parties knowing what district they can run in and of citizens’ capacity for civic engagement.

“[Legislators] completely control their calendar and what they do and don’t do,” Earls said. “It’s not inadvertent. It’s not an accident.”

Earls’s cocounsel, Edwin Speas, called Republicans’ delay “a dereliction of duty.”

In the meantime, both Earls and Speas say the situation calls into question the legislature’s ability to do its work and the integrity of the laws it writes. Speas also suggested that “the state legislature may be the most illegally constituted body in the United States, demonstrating a lack of respect for the rights of citizens and for the limitations of that body.”

Judges took testimony and arguments under advisement instead of ruling from the bench.

When the state argued that holding a special election would be costly and that voter turnout would be low, Earls countered that the real “disruption is in not redrawing maps and not holding special elections.”

In a press conference, Earls responded to a question about the cost of special elections by asking, “What price do we put on democracy, and what price do we put on the rights of the voters who’ve been assigned to districts on the basis of their race?”

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

Look at this right-wing trash Carlucci bending over backward to justify Nazis. Why don't you stop being a coward and …

by rob_schrader on Following White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville, Hundreds Gather for Durham Vigil (News)

Communists murdered more people than the Nazis.

You are worse than that racist scum. …

by John Carlucci on Following White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville, Hundreds Gather for Durham Vigil (News)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Look at this right-wing trash Carlucci bending over backward to justify Nazis. Why don't you stop being a coward and …

by rob_schrader on Following White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville, Hundreds Gather for Durham Vigil (News)

Communists murdered more people than the Nazis.

You are worse than that racist scum. …

by John Carlucci on Following White Supremacist Rally in Charlottesville, Hundreds Gather for Durham Vigil (News)

Nobody agrees with these left handed Nazis more than Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban.
The good news is you …

by Jaddy Baddy on Governor Cooper Calls for the Removal of Confederate Monuments (News)

I support the removal of the statues 100%. I support civil disobedience and thank those who are willing to take …

by Kate Sterling on Bree Newsome, Who Pulled Down S.C. Confederate Flag in 2015, Salutes Durham Demonstrators (News)

I don't live in Holding's district, and I would never vote for him. However, I did run into him at …

by ct on Constituents to Congressman George Holding: You Suck (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation