Commentary by Brian Irving
Partisan gerrymandering is bad for democracy – whether done by a legislature dominated by one party or a court dominated by another party.
The state Supreme Court’s ruling that legislative maps are unconstitutional ignores the plain language of the state constitution to serve a political end. The Democratic justices dismissed the judgment of a bipartisan trial court panel, which twice dismissed the lawsuits, to create a new protected class – partisan voters.
They ordered the General Assembly not to “diminish or dilute any individual’s vote based on partisan affiliation” so they could “aggregate with like-minded citizens to elect a governing majority of elected officials ….”
The justices seem to think we live in a parliamentary system where people vote for party lists, not individuals.
But by creating the Democratic and Republican parties as protected classes, the justices diminished if not totally eliminated the voting power of more than one-third of registered voters who choose not to affiliate with either of these old parties. This group includes unaffiliated voters, Libertarians, and those formerly registered with the Green and Constitution parties. By the way, this group of “like-minded citizens” is larger than both old parties.
Redistricting has always been a political process dominated by party interests. Until now, the courts have served as a moderating influence. That’s no longer true.
Throughout North Carolina’s sordid history of partisan gerrymandering, especially in the last decade, both old establishment parties have resisted any idea to remove or restrict their power to draw district lines to their advantage.
Now that the state Supreme Court has shown that the courts aren’t impartial, creating an independent process may finally have a chance of consideration.