WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Sept. 25, the first of three public hearings will be held as lawmakers begin another round of redistricting in North Carolina.
In April of this year, the new Republican majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court issued a 5-2 party-line opinion overturning its prior decision in Harper v. Hall, a redistricting case challenging the state’s congressional and legislative maps drawn with 2020 census data. With its reversal, the court ruled that partisan gerrymandering claims are not justiciable under the state constitution.
Its now-overturned decision, which was issued in December 2022, struck down North Carolina’s state Senate map for being a partisan gerrymander and affirmed a lower court’s decision that rejected the Legislature’s redraw of the congressional map. Like the state Senate map, the congressional map was struck down for being a pro-Republican gerrymander that violated the state constitution. Between that December decision and the April 2023 reversal, the only change was a shift in partisan control of the state’s highest court in the 2022 midterm elections.
The reversal of the decision allows the North Carolina Legislature to redraw district boundaries for Congress and both chambers of the Legislature. In response to the new ruling, House Speaker Tim Moore (R) stated, “We will fulfill our constitutional duty to redraw state house, senate and congressional maps.”
It is likely that the new districts will heavily favor Republicans, especially since Republicans not only control the state Supreme Court, but also hold a veto-proof supermajority in the Legislature.
As was the case in 2021, there is very limited opportunity for the public to advocate for their communities of interest. Next week, there will be three public hearings — in Elizabeth City on Monday, Hickory on Tuesday and at the state Legislature in Raleigh on Wednesday.
Though North Carolina has 100 counties, the hearings will only occur in three counties. Notably, the hearings will all be held during the work day and there is no virtual public hearing scheduled. Members of the public can find a hearing to attend here.