The nationally monitored gerrymandering trial in North Carolina will soon be coming to an end. Oral arguments begin in the North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.
There is no timetable or deadline for when the judges will rule, although given that they previously pushed back the date of the primary election to give them enough time to rule before then, their Judgment in the case is expected soon.
Here’s how to watch the oral arguments, if you’re a political super-nerd, plus some background information for those who need to catch up.
How and when to watch
The Supreme Court is closed to the public due to COVID-19 security measures. However, Wednesday’s closing arguments will be streamed live online for everyone to watch.
The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. and the proceedings will be streamed live on the North Carolina Supreme Court YouTube channel.
The News & Observer will also be following the trial and posting updates to newsobserver.com throughout the day.
Why are the cards controversial?
They are lured by the virtual guarantee that Republicans will win 10 of 14 seats in the US House of Representatives, even if Democrats win the statewide vote by several percentage points.
The Republicans could also extend their advantage up to 11-3 if their party wins the statewide vote by several percentage points.
The state legislature cards are also skewed in favor of Republican candidates. The left-leaning groups that sued said at last month’s trial that it was possible the GOP could win a veto-proof supermajority in the Legislature, even if the Democrats won a majority in the Legislative Assembly. statewide vote, allowing Republicans to override any veto by Democrats Gov. Roy Cooper.
Why didn’t Cooper veto the cards?
All of the maps were drawn last fall by GOP lawmakers and passed in party-line votes. A provision in the state constitution specifically prohibits the governor from vetoing redistricting bills, so Republicans haven’t had to worry about bringing in Democrats even if they don’t have to. currently no qualified majority.
Legislative leaders have defended their work, saying the state’s ‘political geography’ — the fact that Democrats tend to cluster in a few urban areas while Republicans are scattered in rural areas — gives Republicans an advantage integrated that the maps simply reflect.
Left-wing groups challenging the maps, however, said they ran billions of simulations to draw possible maps of North Carolina — and found that what the legislature passed was more right-skewed than almost anything. their computer algorithms could come up with.
A Republican-majority bipartisan panel of judges concluded after a trial that the maps had been intentionally altered in favor of the Republicans, but they ruled that it was not unconstitutional and upheld the maps. Now the case is before the Democratic-majority Supreme Court.
Didn’t we just go through that?
Yes. North Carolina redrew its maps in 2019 by court order, to replace a set of maps drawn in 2017 that were ruled unconstitutional. These 2017 maps were drawn to replace a different set of maps, from 2011, which were also deemed unconstitutional.
These were all designed by Republicans. But if you go back decades, you’ll see many maps drawn by Democrats that were also deemed unconstitutional, all the way back to the 1980s.
The reason for the latest reshuffling is the 2020 census. All political districts must be redone after each census to ensure that the districts are all the same size.
Judges hearing the case on Wednesday can confirm the maps or order new ones to be drawn.
Whatever comes out of it will likely be what North Carolina uses in the 2022, 2024, 2026, 2028, and 2030 elections — unless, of course, another lawsuit overturns them and starts that process all over again.
If the judges order new cards, the timing will be tight. The primary election is scheduled for May 17, which, due to early voting and other requirements, means nominations are scheduled for late February. And because the cards must be in place before the start of the submission of applications, the judges have only a few days to render their decision if they plan to cancel the cards.
Or we could see the court delay the primary again. It has done this once before, moving it from March to May. The legislature recently tried to move it to June, but Cooper vetoed the bill, saying that should be the court’s decision.
For more on North Carolina government and politics, listen to the Under the Dome political podcast from The News & Observer and NC Insider. You can find it at link.chtbl.com/underthedomenc or wherever you get your podcasts.