Redistricting maps were retained in North Carolina, but rescinded in Ohio. What is the difference?


(WGHP) – After a three-judge panel in Raleigh confirmed the redistricting maps established by the General Assembly of the State, two decisions involving similar claims in Ohio were rendered quite differently.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday struck down congressional maps approved by the state’s redistricting commission, following a decision earlier this week on State House and Senate cards, on the grounds of being an extreme partisan gerrymanders. The chief justice, a Republican, voted with three Democrats to sway the 4-3 decisions.

The Ohio case had been filed in federal court, but a federal judge delayed hearing the case until the state courts had ruled.

Friday, the court ruled against the cards this would have given the GOP a 12-3 advantage, saying that “when the dealer stacks the deck, the house usually wins”.

Left to right, Superior Court Justices Nathaniel Poovey, Graham Shirley and Dawn Layton listen to testimony from unrepresented University of Michigan political scientist Jowei Chen during a partisan trial over the new political maps of the North Carolina on Monday, Jan. 3. 2022 in a courtroom at Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh, North Carolina (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

In the first stop, The Columbus, Ohio Dispatch said the court “ruled that the Ohio Redistricting Commission – which is responsible for drawing legislative maps and is Republican-dominated – could not ignore the parts of the Ohio Constitution that required them to attempt to match the voting preferences of voters statewide”.

Attorney Phil Strach, the same attorney who delivered closing arguments in North Carolina last week, helped sway the Wake County Superior Court panel to enforce the maps approved Nov. 5 by the NCGA. .

The biggest difference in Ohio is that there is a redistricting commission, composed of seven people appointed by various politicians. This process was approved by voters in 2015.

The NCGA has refused to advance various bills to form a nonpartisan commission to redraw the state’s districts. House Majority Whip Jon Hardister (R-Guilford County) has been a supporter of this plan and sponsored some of the blocked legislation to implement it.

What’s next in North Carolina?

The three plaintiffs against Congress and North Carolina’s state cards told the state’s Supreme Court they plan to appeal Tuesday’s ruling, and the court has set February 2 as the date on which he will hear the arguments.

Associate Justice Phil Berger Jr.
Associate Justice Anita Earls (nccourts.gov)

This court last month delayed primary elections and the filing of nominations until the courts could deal with the case. The primary is scheduled for May 17, but the filing period will resume at the end of February, the Wake County Court ruled this week.

The appeal renewed pressure on the Supreme Court to have some justices recuse themselves due to a personal or historical conflict.

You’ve heard of Associate Justice Phil Berger Jr. because his father is Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), a named defendant in the case. Associate Justice Anita Earls is one of the founders of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who is involved in representing the plaintiff’s common cause in this matter.

Lawyers for the the legislator filed with the court for Earls and Associate Justice Sam Ervin IV – who is up for re-election – to recuse themselves. Plaintiffs also pushed for Berger. Associate Justice Tamara Barringer has also been a target of recusal because she is a former Republican lawmaker who voted on redistricting maps.

There are detailed guidelines when recusal is appropriate or required, and the Supreme Court has allowed justices to control this for themselves. Berger and Barringer said they would hear the case.

The Democrats have a 4-3 margin among the justices. Recusing all four would mean a 2-1 Democratic advantage. Any challenge resulting in an evenly divided court could render a decision moot.

The GOP could have gone further

Tim Moore

A comment by State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) outraged Democrats and gerrymandering critics.

Moore was addressing passages from the 3-judge panel’s decision in which the judges expressed contempt for what they viewed as extreme gerrymander in some districts. These maps could give the GOP a 10-4 or 11-3 advantage in Congress (it’s currently 8-5, with a new seat awarded by census numbers) despite a balance of votes nationwide. state between the parties.

Hall told the News & Observer in Raleigh: “At the end of the day, take a look at the map. If you wanted to take the political data into account, if it had been taken into account, the maps could have been drawn in such a way that they would be much more beneficial to the Republicans.

Voting rights legislation

It’s possible that this whole gerrymandering dispute will be resolved if the US Senate passes the Voting Rights Act that President Joe Biden has been pushing passionately this week.

Nonpartisan redistricting would be specified as one of the key elements of the bill, which addresses many controversial elements of elections at the state level, such as voter registration and identification, dates early voting and postal ballots.

Really, there are two bills: the Freedom to Vote Act, which Sen. Joe Manchin (RW.Va.) brokered, an amended version of the bill first introduced in 2019, and the John Lewis Advancement of Suffrage Act, which updates the Basic Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But as a voter, what do you really know about this bill and what would it mean for you? As a reminder, here are the key elements of the bill, no matter how you might hear politicians give them their point of view:

  • Election Day would become a federal holiday.
  • The redistribution process would be uniform nationally.
  • Voter registration would be part of vehicle registration and would be available on Election Day.
  • States must allow 15 days of early voting before the election, including two weekends.
  • Each voter could request a postal ballot.
  • The rules would dictate how voter lists would be purged and how drop boxes would be offered.
  • Uniform national voter identification standards would be established and required.
  • There would be enhanced election security, including the construction of voting materials and paper registers and support for nonpartisan poll workers.
  • The Department of Justice would resume its oversight of election laws to guard against discriminatory practices.
  • Increased scrutiny of campaign contributions would eliminate anonymous donations – black money – to candidates.

Small bites

  • Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the race to replace retired Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr, received another major, albeit unsurprising, endorsement this week: of Governor Roy Cooper.
  • The Beasley campaign said so would bring in $2.1 million in revenue for the fourth quarter. Ballotpedia, which tracks campaign finance records, posted only during the last reporting period, which ended Sept. 30, Beasley had nearly $2.8 million in revenue.
  • The three frontrunners for the Republican nomination — former Gov. Pat McCrory, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) and former Rep. Mark Walker — haven’t updated their fundraising totals since then. McCrory reported in September that he had nearly $2.3 million in the bank, followed by Budd (over $2.1 million) and Walker (about $540,000). Walker was encouraged to quit the race and run the house, a move he said he was considering and which most believed would help Budd.

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