Yes, we’re still going to have a twelfth congressional district. But it won’t be the same. It’s likely that the snake-like, I-85 shaped district we’ve all come to know and love is on its way out, probably for good.
This is of course the result of the federal court’s ruling two weeks ago that the twelfth district was an illegal racial gerrymander. In the opinion, the district was described as “serpentine.” According to a criterion set forth by the redistricting committee this morning, efforts will be made to reshape the twelfth district, which will no doubt have a huge effect on the other districts.
It’s possible the legislature doesn’t have to radically alter the Twelfth in order to conform with the federal court’s ruling. The problem is, nobody is quite sure what the court wants the legislature to do. So they’re doing this out of an abundance of caution.
There were several other goings-on in the committee worthy of report, among them being the criterion that a new map continues to yield a 10-3 Republican delegation. That’s going to be a little harder to do, with the I-85 snake presumably being altered in shape (possibly going into rural Democratic counties now part of the 8th district). Several districts will likely be a little more competitive under a new map, but not by much.
Next, it looks like according to the criteria, there’s not going to be anymore “point contiguity.” Point contiguity (in which districts are connected only by an imaginary point in space) is illegal for legislative redistricting, but NC has been using it for at least two decades for congressional redistricting. In the current map, there’s point contiguity in one place: in the 4th congressional district between the Chatham and Harnett County lines. So, it’s looking like there will be at least a very minor change in the 4th district as well.
Also included: criteria to make districts as compact as possible and to minimize county splits, and to keep incumbents in their own districts. The first two criteria should be seen as guidelines only.
There was also one testy exchange where Sen. Blue made vague hints that the federal courts would be drawing the maps because of Rep. Lewis’s contention that race shouldn’t be used as a criteria, which is precisely what got the legislature in trouble in the first place. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Of course, this is all moot if the Supreme Court issues a stay. In that case, the Twelfth shall live on – at least for another election cycle.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.