North Carolina

North Carolina is one of the most severely gerrymandered states in the nation. The state’s electoral maps have been the subject of litigation and were ordered to be redrawn because of unconstitutional and racial gerrymandering. In 2018, we helped Democrats break supermajorities in both the state Senate and the state House. North Carolina will remain an NDRC target in 2020 — we are targeting the state Senate and House.

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Redistricting in North Carolina

The following timeline is a high-level overview outlining major redistricting events and activity in the state of North Carolina over the last 10 years.

Congressional Timeline

2011

Census data delivered to North Carolina.

Republican-controlled legislature drew and passed new congressional and legislative maps, both of which were severely gerrymandered.

2012

Despite winning a majority of House votes statewide, Democrats win only 4 of the 13 congressional seats.

2013

A federal lawsuit was brought challenging two congressional districts as violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

2016

A trial court ruled that the two challenged districts were racial gerrymanders, and ordered the state legislature to redraw the congressional map.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the State’s request to stay the trial court’s decision, and the North Carolina General Assembly implemented a new congressional map.

The General Assembly replaced a racial gerrymander with a partisan gerrymander: In 2016, the new map yielded the same partisan distribution among U.S. House representatives as the 2011 map yielded in the 2014 election.

New lawsuits were filed in federal court, challenging the 2016 remedial map as a partisan gerrymander. The suits were consolidated and litigated together.

2017

During the partisan gerrymandering litigation, a Republican state representative admitted he drew the maps to lock in 10 of the seats for his party because it was not mathematically possible to draw a map that produced 11 seats for Republicans.

2018

A three-judge panel in federal court struck down the 2016 map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, but the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order staying the district court’s decision, including the remedial map process, pending appeal.

Democrats won 48.3% of the votes for congressional seats, but only three of 13 seats.

State Legislature Timeline

2015

Voters initiated a federal challenge to the state legislative map, arguing that certain state legislative districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

2016

In the federal challenge, a judicial panel held that twenty-eight state legislative districts were unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered, and ordered the General Assembly to redraw those districts.

2017

After appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court summarily affirmed the decision of the judicial panel.

After holding a hearing about the remedial process, the federal panel ordered the North Carolina legislature to adopt new legislative maps.

To address objections lodged against some of the remedial districts, the trial court appointed a special master to prepare a report and redraw the districts that the court believed were legally infirm.

2018

The court approved the state’s 2017 plan, as modified by the special master’s recommendations.

The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the remedial map’s revisions to the state legislative districts in part, but allowed some changes to the map to go into effect.

Democrats broke supermajorities in both the state Senate and the state House.

Common Cause, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and a group of individual North Carolina voters are suing the state of North Carolina over the partisan gerrymandering of legislative maps for both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly. North Carolinians voted in new state legislators who are committed to a fair and inclusive redistricting process.

1 Know the Decision Makers

The redistricting process is controlled by different elected officials in each state. Knowing who they are and when to vote for them is the key to creating a fairer redistricting process. Congressional lines in North Carolina are drawn by the state legislature. Legislative lines are drawn by:

  • State Senate
  • State House
  • Down Ballot

2 Know Your State Legislature

Projected state legislature make-up starting in 2019.

North Carolina Lower Chamber
55

Democratic-held
seats

65

Republican-held
seats

North Carolina Upper Chamber
21

Democratic-held
seats

29

Republican-held
seats

Court Cases Impacting North Carolina

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina focused too much on race when they drew two congressional districts in the state. The Supreme Court is also positioned to review a partisan gerrymandering challenge to the state’s congressional map, after the lower court found the remedial map from the racial gerrymandering case to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Cooper v. Harris

Read the U.S. Supreme Court opinion.

Common Cause v. Rucho

Read the district court panel's opinion.

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