Bipartisan Group of Former Governors to North Carolina Superior Court: Halt the Damage Partisan Gerrymandering Inflicts on Our Democracy.

Election Protection

11.29.2021

Brief Brings Together Former North Carolina Governor Easley with Former Governors Schwarzenegger of California, Weld of Massachusetts, and Whitman of New Jersey; Contends Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering Harms North Carolinians and Undermines Good Governance

Raleigh, NC — On Monday, a bipartisan group of former governors, represented by the States United Democracy Center and Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in North Carolina Superior Court in Wake County, in support of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP and its challenge to the unjustifiable maps passed by the North Carolina legislature. The brief argues that extreme partisan gerrymandering violates provisions of the North Carolina Constitution and harms democracy. The brief was signed by former North Carolina Governor Michael F. Easley, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. 

“Democracy and political gerrymandering are totally at odds. Democracy demands free and fair elections for the people. Political gerrymandering requires a manipulated and rigged system against the people” said former North Carolina Governor Mike Easley. “And the only way to protect the people’s rights is for the courts to get rid of this manipulated and rigged system”

In North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. Berger, the Plaintiffs allege that the legislature’s redistricting without use of any racial data violates the state’s constitution, which incorporates the federal Voting Rights Act. In their complaint, they argue the legislature’s failure to use racial data violates its duty to protect minority voters’ rights from dilution, as required by the Voting Rights Act. In addition, they claim that this failure constitutes intentional discrimination, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. On Tuesday, November 30th, the court will hold a hearing on the Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to block the implementation of these potentially unconstitutional Congressional, state house and state senate maps.

“Allowing legislatures to undermine democratic process and to choose their own voters through such extreme, partisan gerrymandering in any state poses a dire threat to democracy. Voters should choose their elected leaders, not the other way around,” said former Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Co-Chair of the States United Democracy Center. “As former governors, we know firsthand how legislative districts that reward partisan polarization make it more challenging to find common ground and pass legislation to benefit all the people in our states. North Carolina voters deserve better than these biased maps.”

 “I have pledged to do everything I can, to fight in every state, to terminate partisan gerrymandering. These latest maps in North Carolina are yet another example of politicians placing their interests above the people,” said California’s 38th Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who campaigned to end gerrymandering in his own state while he was Governor and all over the country since he left office. “The courts must ensure we have fair maps and fair representation for North Carolinians and all Americans. The first three words of the constitution are ‘We the people,’ not ‘We the politicians,’ and we need courts to stand up for the people when their politicians won’t.”

“Legislatures should be using modern mapping technology to ensure that all of the residents in the state have their votes count and their voices heard,” said former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld. “When lawmakers instead choose to draw maps that unfairly favor one political party or mute the votes of constituents, they inflict a deep injury to democracy and the freedom to vote.”

Key excerpts from the brief are included below:

Extreme partisan gerrymandering … creates an intolerable strain on our democracy.  Redistricting is critical to representative government because it provides the basis for all citizens of North Carolina to elect their representatives and thereafter hold them accountable.  As such, districting should aspire to give voice to all the people of the state, and not just a portion.  

Partisan gerrymandering curdles the democratic political processes.  Unchecked, the then-party in power is permitted to wield the decennial redistricting process to bias and distort future elections in a way that muffles the voice of the electorate.  Partisan gerrymandering allows representatives to select their voters, and not the voters to select their representatives.  Partisan gerrymandering allows representatives to retrench their authority at the expense of the other branches of government who are also elected by the people. 

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About the States United Democracy Center The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit www.statesuniteddemocracy.org.