The Woodshed: UNC Professor Claims Only Democrats Protect Black Voters’ Rights

By Dallas Woodhouse
The Woodshed, Carolina Journal

A liberal UNC-Chapel Hill professor testified Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court that GOP-crafted election maps represent a conservative white backlash against rising black political power. Professor James Leloudis appeared on behalf of Democratic Party-aligned plaintiffs working to overturn voting maps passed by the Republican-led General Assembly, arguing that the maps are unfair to black North Carolinians.

Leloudis, a UNC-CH history professor, testified he did not believe that legislators could remove racial considerations from map drawing even if no racial data were considered in the process.

“Race and partisan politics in North Carolina have always been tightly intertwined,” Leloudis said. “For all intents and purposes, they are inseparable.”

“How is it possible to unsee the thing … so central to the politics of this state and this nation for the last 150 years? It’s hard for me to believe that by simply declaring it so to … set that history aside.”

“The legislature that engaged in partisan gerrymandering in 2011, also crafted this redistricting plan,” Leloudis added. “These are cut from the same cloth and crafted by the same tailors.”

But legislative defendants highlighted previous sworn testimony from Leloudis in a pretrial deposition. At that time, the professor declared his belief that partisan and racial politics are so intertwined that black voting rights can be protected only if Democrat majorities are elected in the General Assembly, a statement that has no foundation in constitutional law.

In court, Leloudis repeated the claim he made in his deposition. He was asked: “Does there have to be a Democratic majority in the General Assembly for minority voting strength not to be diluted?”

James Leloudis, professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, testifying during a trial involving N.C. election maps. Image from media pool livestream

“I think that’s more or less true,” Leloudis responded.

Phrased another way, Leloudis in essence stated that race and partisanship are so intertwined in North Carolina that black North Carolina voters are bound to have their constitutional rights violated as a result of voters choosing a majority of Republicans to control the General Assembly.

Legislative defendants have written to the court that Leloudis’ report offers no relevant evidence concerning 2021 election maps or the redistricting process.

“In preparing his report, Dr. Leloudis did not speak to any current or former member of the General Assembly,” wrote the legislative defendants. “Nor did Dr. Leloudis review or listen to any hearing of the Senate or House Redistricting Commission. As a result, Dr. Leloudis offers no opinions regarding any specific district passed by the General Assembly in 2021. Rather, the report surveys broad swaths of racial history in North Carolina and the United States going back to the Civil War. Much of the report is historically accurate, some of it is exaggerated, some of it is incorrect, but the Court need not parse the report topic by topic, because it is all irrelevant.”

Moon Duchin, math professor at Tufts University, examined the enacted maps through the lens of partisan fairness and racial vote dilution.

Duchin claimed the enacted maps “exhibit and entrench partisan skew” and “dilute racial opportunity to elect candidates of choice.”

Duchin seemed to argue that maps favoring Republicans on a partisan basis are equal to racial gerrymandering.

Legislative defendants will soon make their case that the three maps in question — N.C. House, N.C. Senate, and Congress — are constitutional. As noted in their written submissions to the court, the legislative defendants will argue “If the 2021 Plans are unconstitutionally partisan, then no plan in State history has ever been constitutional.”

Legislative defendants argue to the court that claims of partisan gerrymandering are ultimately political questions and North Carolina courts lack jurisdiction over political questions. They will ask the three-judge panel to find claims of political gerrymandering as nonjusticiable, just as the U.S. Supreme Court did on the same question in the federal courts.

Defendants argue that the provisions in the state constitution cited by the plaintiffs attempt to apply individual protections for “free elections, speech, assembly, and equal protection to a collective political group.”

Legislative defendants will further argue that left-leaning plaintiffs are advocating for proportional representation based on statewide election results.

“Plaintiffs’ assertion is that the alleged inability of the Democratic Party to obtain a majority of seats when it wins the majority of votes is problematic.”

“But there is no right to proportionality,” the defendants add. “Although Plaintiffs play clever semantic games with the word ‘proportional,’ they all bypass the simple problem that there is nothing legally problematic with a state of affairs where statewide vote totals are not matched in the composition of a legislative body elected from single-member, geographic-based districts.”

“Ultimately, Plaintiffs’ claims are affirmatively troubling because, in asking this Court to enforce their partisan preferences, they are actually asking to codify favoritism for the Democratic Party into the State Constitution,” the legislative defendants argue. “For more than 100 years the Democratic Party controlled the redistricting process and drew district lines to serve its partisan goals. However unsavory this may have been, at least the Democratic Party could claim a majority of the General Assembly, the traditional basis for claiming the benefits of a redistricting process.”

The legislature will also argue that claims of racial discrimination are without merit.

“The General Assembly did not consider racial data in the redistricting, and it is not a violation of the State Constitution to avoid discriminating on the basis of race. “

Closing arguments are slated for Thursday with a verdict from the 3-judge panel to come by January 11.

The Woodshed, by investigative political analyst Dallas Woodhouse, is a unique blend of news and opinion based on his expertise and years of experience in North Carolina’s political trenches. For more follow him on Twitter at @DallasWoodhouse


  1. Put 750,000 people into compact districts as possible with no regards for political party,race or any other consideration. It is past time to stop all these lawsuits where the only concern is trying to rig elections for a certain desired outcome.

  2. This guy cannot be serious. Folks, these are the types of people educating your children. Sad. And we wonder they the world is so messed up.

  3. Why aren’t organizations (like BLM, NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, etc, etc) called out for their influence on elections, on district maps, on last minute election changes that have NOT been approved by the proper legislature as was done in NC for the 2020 election? It’s time to disband ALL race centric organizations….or let all races freely establish their own.

  4. I guess I am a little forgetful, but who kept the blacks down years ago, it was the Democrat party who created JIM CROW.

    • The true reality is NC is not a purple state but through fraudulently adding democrat voters to the voter registration rolls they have given NC the appearance of a purple state. Folks the fraud has been going on for many many years.

    • Are you being purposely obtuse? In the 1960s those ultra right wing southern Democrats abandoned the party in droves and registered Republican where they felt more at home with racist policies. It doesn’t matter what you call them. You can’t change history by spinning it to suit your own comfort zone.

  5. No, not phrased another way. This is not what Professor James Leloudis said. This is what Dallas Woodhouse imagined. Professor Leloudis is correct. The fact of the matter is, Republicans can not win fair elections in North Carolina. Diluting the black vote is advantageous to republicans. Limiting the number of polling locations is advantageous to republicans. Republicans have no interest in bipartisanship. It’s all about money and fear. That’s the driving factor.

    • So what you are saying is that African American voters are not capable of finding their polling places so they can vote. Not capable of getting a voter ID. Not capable of early voting which is advertised and talked about on all the news stations. Wow, just wow, what a great opinion of AA’s you have. What a clown you are.

      • Randolph Macon, Your comments are not what I said. Reducing the number of voting locations creates obstacles…longer lines, longer waiting times, longer drives, trouble finding parking. Access to the voting box should be the same for all citizens.

        I am a liberal patriot. I’m also a retired Vet…not a clown. Preserving democracy should be defended from those who seek to drive us apart. If we were neighbors, I’m sure we would get along. I’m sure we would work together to solve problems that affected us. Tearing down others is not very American and certainly not very Christian. We all need to be better people.

        • So what if there are longer lines. People have a month or so to vote. They stand in lines for vaccines and tests and use an ID. All you are doing is making the same old excuses that I dont buy or believe. If you want to vote, find the time and place and vote and stop with the excuses.

        • We need to go back to one day of voting, smaller precincts, paper ballots, hand counting with results phoned in on the same day! No more electronics that can be hacked! #voteamish

    • Liberal Patriot-

      First off your name is an oxymoron. Second, motivation driven by fear and money perfectly describes the Pharma industry and liberal politicians over the last 2 years.

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