Earlier this month, the North Carolina state supreme court showed exactly how the National League of Women Voter’s strategy of suing over partisan gerrymanders in state court could work. The court revisited the maps drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature and concluded thus:
In outlawing the partisan maps, the judges relied heavily on a broad reading of Section 10 of the State Constitution, which states in its entirety that “All elections shall be free.” While higher state courts have said little about the clause, they wrote, other rulings have made it clear that citizens express their will at the ballot box and that the state has a compelling interest in keeping the vote fair.
“The free elections clause of the North Carolina constitution guarantees that all elections must be conducted freely and honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the people,” the judges wrote. But “it is not the free will of the people that is fairly ascertained through extreme partisan gerrymandering. Rather, it is the carefully crafted will of the map drawer that predominates.”
Republicans in the legislature announced that they would not pursue an appeal. The court directed that new maps be drawn in public hearings to be completed by today (September 18). More to come on this as the story continues to develop.