The North Carolina Supreme Court threw out a previous ruling against gerrymandered districting in the state on Friday and also upheld a photo ID voting law in what is being touted as a victory for Republicans.
The recent partisan gerrymandering ruling from the newly formed court, in which conservatives have a 5-2 advantage, is expected to simplify the process for the Republican-controlled legislature to assist the GOP in securing additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives during the upcoming 2024 elections.
When the court leaned Democrat in December, it threw out a state Senate map from the Republican-led state legislature and maintained congressional boundaries that had been drawn up by trial judges.
The ruling in December emerged from a landmark decision in February 2022 that ruled state courts have the ability to throw out district lines that would give an unfair advantage to one political party in a narrowly divided state.
The Republicans on the court pushed back against the ruling, arguing that congressional districting should only be under the purview of elected lawmakers. Democrats won seven of the 14 congressional seats in the state during the previous year’s election with the existing map.
In the majority opinion for the Friday ruling, Chief Justice Paul Newby wrote that the previous court was wrong to find that the state Constitution prohibited partisan gerrymandering. “In its decision today, the Court returns to its tradition of honoring the constitutional roles assigned to each branch,” he wrote. “This case is not about partisan politics, but rather about realigning the proper roles of the judicial and legislative branches.”
“This case is not about partisan politics, but rather about realigning the proper roles of the judicial and legislative branches.”
— Chief Justice Paul Newby
The high court also tossed out a trial court decision that restored voting rights to convicted felons who have not completed their probation or parole.
“The decisions handed down today by the NC Supreme Court have ensured that our constitution and the will of the people of North Carolina are honored,” House Speaker Tim Moore said in a press release Friday.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who heads a Democrat group that was involved with supporting the state’s redistricting case, blasted Friday’s mapping decision as “a function of political personnel and partisan opportunism” from the GOP.
“History will not be kind to this court’s majority, which will now forever be stained for irreparably harming the legitimacy and reputation of North Carolina’s highest tribunal,” Holder said.