The Most Important Paragraph In the Gerrymandering Ruling

A federal judge gets to the meat of the redistricting problem

If you’re looking for a tidy summation of why the federal court ruling yesterday that orders the General Assembly to redraw North Carolina’s district lines matters so much, read the above.

It was written by U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn—best known for striking down the state’s gay marriage ban in 2014—in a concurring opinion to the ruling; a three-judge panel found that the legislature gerrymandered the First and 12th congressional districts along racial lines, in violation of the 14th Amendment.

The paragraph sums up the significance of the gerrymandering problem. As Cogburn notes, it’s not necessarily a partisan issue. Lawmakers have drawn district lines to their party’s advantage from the early days of the Republic, and the grotesque 12th District—the nation’s most gerrymandered—attained its basis of its gnarled shape when Democrats were the majority party in Raleigh.

It’s just that computer mapping has enabled legislators to gerrymander virtually on a molecular level. The stakes, in other words, have grown intolerable because technology has advanced beyond what the original law’s framers could have imagined. I can think of another compelling national issue to which that logic could be applied.

Categories: The Buzz