Thursday, 11 January 2018 08:42

TOP STORY: North Carolina Ordered to Redraw District Lines; Could Affect Harris/Pittenger Election in May

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Dr. Mark Harris (left) and Robert Pittenger (right) face the possibility of the 9th Congressional District being redrawn due to "unconstitutional gerrymandering." Dr. Mark Harris (left) and Robert Pittenger (right) face the possibility of the 9th Congressional District being redrawn due to "unconstitutional gerrymandering."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal judges ordered the North Carolina General Assembly to reconfigure its 13 congressional districts on Tuesday, striking down what many are referring to as gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering, as noted in a September 21 story published on richmondobserver.com, is “a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan-advantaged districts.”

Judge James A. Wynn, who wrote the majority opinion on the ruling, specifically called out the Republican-led General Assembly for gerrymandering in his ruling.

The appellate court ruling gives the General Assembly three weeks to determine a new map, though the United States Supreme Court could overturn the move and stay the original decision that permitted the map prior to the appeals court ruling.

Mark Harris, who is set to challenge incumbent Congressman Robert Pittenger (R, 9th District) in a special primary election this May, noted his frustration with the ruling in a letter to supporters.

“While we disagree with this ruling and believe it to be another example of judicial activism run amok, based on what we are hearing from judicial and redistricting experts, as well as our legislative leaders, we feel confident that the Supreme Court will stay the ruling and our election will proceed as scheduled with no changes to the 9th Congressional District,” said Harris.

Harris spent much of Wednesday, the day after the ruling, meeting with 9th district legislators in Raleigh to discuss the ruling and other issues facing the district.

Referring to his legislative colleagues in the General Assembly, Harris noted, “I share their frustrations that these three federal judges have declared themselves kings and, without any sound Constitutional basis, declared our Congressional districts unconstitutional.”

The ruling could affect the special primary election set for this May, but Harris and other sources close to The Richmond Observer have noted they expect the election to go on as planned.

Wayne Goodwin, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party and Richmond County native, noted in a letter to supporters Wednesday that, “Republican lawmakers have made North Carolina a national embarrassment – from passing the anti-LGBT rights law, House Bill 2, to passing one of the most monstrous and discriminatory voter suppression laws in the country. We must send a message to Republicans in our legislature and across the nation that we are better than this.”

Goodwin will be featured as an in-studio guest on LIVE AT 5 this Monday for an exclusive interview on the case and what he ultimately expects to result from the appellate court order to redraw the districts.

The Richmond Observer will continue to monitor this story and release updates as they become available.