The brief is part of a larger argument over possession of computer files of the late Dr. Thomas Hofeller, who worked with the General Assembly on redistricting. It included claims that the files had evidence that members of the General Assembly had lied to judges in a previous court case. The underlying claims are that state legislators committed several acts of malfeasance:
- Claiming that they needed time to develop criteria for the maps, draft maps, and hold public hearings, but that the maps were actually “substantially complete” before the process had begun.
- Claiming that the criteria used for the district maps were adopted in August of 2017, but (again) that those maps were “substantially completed” two months earlier.
- Stating (and Common Cause used a direct quote here) “that ‘data regarding the race of voters… was not even loaded into the computer used by the map drawer to construct the districts’” (emphasis in the original), but that “Dr. Hofeller had data on the racial composition of the proposed districts in every one of his draft maps.”
There is a fundamental empirical question to test the claims in the Common Cause brief: are the districts in the Hofeller files the same as those eventually adopted by the General Assembly? Common Cause has failed to produce evidence that they are. Instead, they rely on innuendo and hope that judges (and other readers of the brief) will make leaps of logic to connect dots that are not connected. Indeed, they are only willing to state that Hofeller’s maps are similar to those adopted by the general assembly.
I do not doubt that Dr. Hofeller had numerous maps of North Carolina legislative districts in his computer files loaded with all kinds of data. I also do not doubt that other mapmakers for both major parties and a host of interest groups have numerous maps of North Carolina legislative districts in their computer files loaded with all kinds of data. But none of those maps and data are the official maps drafted through the process and data stipulated by the General Assembly, and the Common Cause brief fails to make a real connection between them.
There is no substance to Common Cause’s claims.
For your additional reading pleasure, here are the two documents that Common Cause’s attorneys claim contain lies by General Assembly leaders (hat tip to the Brennan Center):
- Notice of Filing and Enactment of House and Senate Districting Plans, September 7, 2017
- Legislative Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Objections, September 22, 2017 (Source of the “not even loaded into the computer” quote.)