The Obama administration Department of Justice has precleared all three 2011 redistricting maps produced by the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly. Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), chairs of the Senate and House Redistricting Committees, released the following statement in celebrating the decision:
“The Obama Justice Department’s stamp of approval on our redistricting plans confirms what we’ve said all along: these are fair and legal maps that give a strong voice to all voters. It also should silence the racially-charged rhetoric and put to rest the baseless claim that these maps were somehow discriminatory.
“Today’s historic decision by the Obama Justice Department, after thorough review by Attorney General Holder, proves that we followed the letter and intent of the law in protecting the voting rights of minorities.”
While the maps could still be struck down by the courts (Democrats and allied groups have already began preparing legal challenges), preclearance represents a major victory for the GOP redistricting efforts. The 2011 process was a first for both North Carolina and the Department of Justice: Republicans drew the maps for the first time, and this is the first time that a Democratic president has in office during a redistricting year since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Supreme Court radically changed the map-making process.