The General Assembly approved new maps yesterday (September 17), a day before the court-imposed deadline to complete them.
Each chamber of the legislature approved the other’s maps without amendment. The House map (H1020) was approved by largely party-line votes in both chambers, due both to disagreements over district boundaries in Cumberland and Columbus counties and lingering hard feelings over the Republican override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto on September 11. The Senate approved its map (S692) on a bipartisan vote on September 16, but the House split by party in their votes on the Senate maps, an indication that Democrat’s opposition to the news maps is a least as much about hurt feelings as it is about the districts themselves.
Despite the rancor in the General Assembly over the House maps, Common Cause, one of the main plaintiffs in the Common Cause v. Lewis lawsuit that forced the legislator to draw new districts, did not come out swinging against the new maps. Instead, Common Cause deputy director Brent Laurenz stated “We look forward to the next steps in this ongoing remedial process, which includes the court thoroughly reviewing the new districts to ensure that they fully comply with the ruling.”
Perhaps one reason Common Cause is so sanguine is that the court has appointed Stanford professor Nathaniel Persily to review the maps and may task him with altering or replacing them, depending on what he writes in that review. While North Carolinians may remember Persily as the special master who drew maps in the the Covington case, he is probably most famous for drawing court-ordered maps in Pennsylvania. Analyses of those maps found that they required “a series of pro-Democratic choices” to end up as they did.
If the court permits Persily to make a similar set of pro-Democratic choices in North Carolina, our district maps will look very different.