Federal court strikes down North Carolina congressional map, says extreme gerrymandering is illegal

Luke Barnes Reporter, Think Progress

A panel of three federal judges in North Carolina ruled on Tuesday that the state’s congressional map was unconstitutionally partisan, and ordered that it be re-drawn before the end of the month.

The court agreed that the map, which was originally drawn in 2011, was drawn to favor Republicans and thus violates the First Amendment, as well as the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Election Clause. It’s the second time North Carolina’s congressional maps have been thrown out — in 2016, three federal judges ruled that state’s congressional districts were the result of an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

“We find that Plaintiffs presented more-than-adequate evidence to satisfy their burden to demonstrate that the General Assembly was motivated by invidious partisan intent in drawing the 2016 plan,” Judge James A. Wynn Jr. noted in the 191-page opinion on the ruling, adding that “the pursuit of partisan advantage predominated over the General Assembly’s non-partisan redistricting objectives.”

“Today’s ruling was just the latest example of the courts telling state legislators in North Carolina that citizens should be able to pick their representatives, instead of politicians picking their voters,” Eric Holder, former attorney general under the Obama administration, said in a statement. “It’s long past time for the legislature to produce fair maps that represent the diverse communities of North Carolina.”

Rick Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine, said that Republicans would likely appeal the decision back to the Supreme Court. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, North Carolina has one of the most extreme cases of gerrymandering in the country which is responsible, along with gerrymandering in Michigan and Pennsylvania, for up to 10 extra Republican seats in all elections since 2011.

“Republicans comprise 30 percent of registered voters in North Carolina, yet they crafted a congressional map that would ensure Republican success in 10 of 13 districts, or 76 percent,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) said in a statement. “The Republicans made this case relatively simple when they admitted in court that the congressional map was drawn for partisan political advantage.”

When North Carolina Republicans redrew the electoral maps in the state after 2011, the state was transformed; the changes effectively meant that, hypothetically, Democrats could win more than half of the vote and still leave 9 of the state’s 13 districts in the hands of the GOP.

The problem of gerrymandered congressional maps with serious electoral implications extends far beyond North Carolina. The Supreme Court is now considering a case in Wisconsin that would allow for a new articulation of what qualifies as a gerrymandering, and last summer, a federal court ruled that two of Texas’ congressional districts violate both the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, just to name a few.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work