By Mitch Kokai
A day after N.C. lawmakers approved new maps for legislative and congressional elections, plaintiffs linked to former Obama-era U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are going to court to block the congressional map.
A lawsuit filed late Friday in Wake County Superior Court labels the map a partisan gerrymander. Critics say the map “specifically violates the Free Elections, Equal Protection, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Assembly Clauses of the North Carolina Constitution.”
More than a dozen individual voters are listed as plaintiffs. They’re working with the National Redistricting Foundation, a group linked to Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee and the Democratic Party. National Democratic redistricting lawyer Marc Elias is listed among the attorneys in the case.
The suit aims its arguments at a three-judge panel that threw out N.C. election maps in 2019. “[R]ather than adhere to this Court’s admonition that extreme partisan gerrymanders unconstitutionally deprive millions of North Carolinians of fundamental rights, Legislative Defendants enacted another extreme and brazen partisan gerrymander,” according to the new complaint. “Like the 2016 congressional map, … the new districts enacted this year … will entrench an overwhelming partisan advantage for Republicans.”
“While Legislative Defendants did not so openly admit to enacting an extreme partisan gerrymander this time, the results speak for themselves: The 2021 Plan flagrantly dilutes Democratic votes by trisecting each of the three most heavily Democratic counties in the state — Wake, Guilford, and Mecklenburg,” according to the complaint. “It then packs many of the remaining Democratic strongholds into three congressional districts. The result is as intended: A map that produces 10 safe Republican seats, 3 safe Democratic seats, and 1 competitive district.”
The lawsuit follows another Holder-backed effort designed to influence North Carolina’s election mapmaking process. Carolina Journal has reported on the work of All On The Line, a Holder-linked group that worked to influence testimony in public hearings tied to the election mapmaking process.
Friday’s suit is the first filed since lawmakers approved new maps this week. The NAACP went to court Oct. 29 to challenge the mapmaking process itself.
There’s no word yet on when either case will head to a courtroom. Candidate filing based on the new election maps is scheduled to start Dec. 6.