There’s a lot going on this week in the legislature and North Carolina politics. Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued two rulings on gerrymandering cases that affect North Carolina elections. Also, today, the legislature is going into session but GOP leaders won’t say why.
The first gerrymandering decision denied Common Cause’s motion to redraw the Congressional districts that a lower court found unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering. That order was stayed by the Supreme Court and the ruling yesterday upheld the stay. That means North Carolina Congressional candidates will run under the districts drawn in 2016.
In the decision, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg voted to lift the stay. One court watcher thinks that their action is an indication that the court is about to rule against partisan gerrymanders in two cases it heard earlier this year. He reasons that Ginsberg and Sotomayor probably know the outcome of the partisan gerrymandering cases and that the partisan maps were found unconstitutional so the ones in NC will be, too. It’s speculative and a bit convoluted reasoning but worth a read.
The second decision allows for most legislative districts to proceed under the maps drawn by the special master. However, the ones in Mecklenburg and Wake will not. The districts in the new maps were all affected directly by racial gerrymandering. The ones in Wake and Mecklenburg were contested because, while they were not affected by gerrymandering, the GOP redrew them to give them an advantage after attempting to fix the racial gerrymanders. They were contested because the state constitution doesn’t allow redrawing in the middle of the decade. It’s almost too confusing to explain.
The legislature is also back in session but nobody knows why. It could be that the GOP is ready to ram through judicial redistricting. It could be that they’re going to move the primaries from May to August or sometime this summer. It could be to put some measure on the ballot. Who knows? That’s no way to run a government.
When Democrats were in control of the legislature, Republicans ran against them claiming cronyism and a lack of transparency hurt the people of North Carolina. They won a big victory in 2010 and immediately began breaking their promises. Today, they are so opaque that they’re going into session and only the GOP leadership knows why. That’s bad government and disdainful of the people they’re supposed to represent.
The only real certainty under GOP rule is that we live in a state of uncertainty. We’re never sure what our districts are going to look like or who represents us. We don’t when our primary elections are going to be or what races we’ll have We don’t know when they’re going to try to overrule local governments or shift power from one branch of government to the other. We’re not even sure what bills are coming before the legislature in what once was known as “the people’s house.” It’s the Trump strategy: keep everything chaotic and you can get away with anything.