The Stanford University law professor tapped to draw maps for federal judges considering the constitutionality of election lines adopted in August by North Carolina lawmakers has released a draft plan.
Nathaniel Persily, selected less than two weeks ago to look at districts in Guilford, Hoke, Cumberland, Wake and Mecklenburg counties adopted to elect General Assembly members, has asked for feedback from lawmakers and challengers of the 2017 maps.
Persily redrew state Senate district lines in Hoke and Cumberland counties that avoids what he called a “jutting arm into Fayetteville” supported by the Republican-led General Assembly and takes in the whole town of Spring Lake to the north.
He redrew three Senate districts in Guilford County and House districts there as well. His map changes House districts in Bladen, Sampson and Wayne counties, as well as in Mecklenburg and Wake counties.
Persily ordered lawmakers and the challengers to submit proposed objections and revisions to the plans by Friday.
He asked for each side to include suggestions for how to draw the lines so that incumbent lawmakers put in the same districts by Persily, or “double-bunked,” could be in individual districts “without degrading the underlying features of the plan.”
Persily also wants each side to provide him with data by Tuesday that includes the addresses of General Assembly members who have not announced that they would not seek re-election.
The maps were drawn in less than two weeks, a much swifter pace than legislators who found out from the U.S. Supreme Court in June that 28 districts adopted in 2011 and used in three election cycles were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
Lawmakers submitted new lines shortly before the court-imposed deadline to correct the problem districts.
The voters who challenged the 2011 districts contend that the 2017 districts still have problems.
The challengers contend that legislators failed to correct racial gerrymanders in a Senate district in Cumberland and Hoke counties, a Senate district in Guilford County and a House district in the same county, and a House district in Wayne and Sampson counties.
They also argue that eight districts were drawn unnecessarily in the middle of the decade, including five districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. That, the challengers say, violates the state Constitution, which calls for lines to be tweaked every decade to reflect changes in the population found by the census.
On Nov. 1, the three federal judges presiding over the case — Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder of the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina and James Wynn of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — rejected lawmakers’ request to get another stab at fixing the problem districts approved in August.
“The State is not entitled to multiple opportunities to remedy its unconstitutional districts,” the judges said in their order announcing the hiring of Persily.
Persily, who has helped draw districts for New York, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut in court-ordered processes, is the James B. McClatchy professor of law at Stanford, a post named for the late publisher and board chairman of the company that owns The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer.
His research focuses on the law of democracy, and addresses such issues as voting rights, political parties, campaign finance and redistricting. He writes for scholarly publications and popular media.
Persily, who is to be paid $500 an hour, half his hourly rate, has been ordered to have his maps ready for the judges by Dec. 1.
Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe1...Read more