Gerrymandering the courts

Republicans in North Carolina are trying to make NC a one-party state, and the courts are telling them No Can Do, so now they’re trying to make the courts one-party.

Courts have overturned 14 laws passed by the legislature since 2011, including redistricting maps for the House of Representatives and the state legislature that one federal court called “among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court.” Sweeping voting restrictions passed by the legislature in 2013 suffered a similar fate, with a federal appeals court saying they targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The legislature’s Republican supermajority hasn’t fared any better in state courts, which have blocked GOP efforts to strip teachers of tenure and to prevent the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, from appointing a majority of commissioners on state and local boards of elections.

Now the legislature has embarked on an unprecedented plan to transform the state’s courts by gerrymandering judicial maps to elect more Republican judges, preventing Cooper from making key judicial appointments, and seeking to get rid of judicial elections altogether. Cooper calls it an attempt to “rig the system.”

Probably because that’s clearly what it is.

Now the legislature is taking up a host of controversial new proposals in a special session, including redrawing judicial maps for the first time in roughly 50 years to put more Republicans on the bench. The new maps would likely give Republican judges 70 percent of seats on North Carolina’s superior and district courts, according to an analysis by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a voting rights group based in Durham. The group calls the new lines “a gross political gerrymander of our state’s legal system, designed to ensure that Republican judges will be elected in a disproportionate number of districts statewide.”

Not good.

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