Republicans will hold the keys to redistricting 29 congressional seats in Ohio and North Carolina with GOP judges holding majorities for both states’ high courts.
In North Carolina, a two-justice swing for the GOP flipped the previously Democratic-led state’s Supreme Court. That means the Republican-controlled state Legislature may be emboldened to redo the 14 congressional districts to benefit the majority party, said Jane Pinsky, executive director of North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform.
The breakdown of the North Carolina delegation in the 117th Congress is eight Republican and five Democratic districts. The state picked up a seat in the 2020 Census, giving it 14 for the next decade. The AP called seven races for each party in the Nov. 8 election.
“With the right redistricting, it would be possible to draw maybe an 11-3 Republican or 10-4 Republican map,” Pinsky said. “You might expect that they’re going to tell the Legislature to redistrict any way they want.”
“Some people would say it’s very fair because ‘to the victor the spoils’ and ‘if one party is the party that the voters turn to, that party should be rewarded’,” said Neal Devins, a law and government professor at William & Mary Law School. “The bounty is controlling all parts of government,” including the ultimate arbiters of the highest state courts.
“They can pretty much run any policy that they want,” said Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation. “Nominally the courts are supposed to be nonpartisan. But philosophically, if nothing else, you get a very different Supreme Court depending on which party controls it and we do have partisan judicial elections, so people know if they’re voting Democratic or Republican,” he said.
In Ohio, three Republican justices fended off Democratic challengers. Litigation over lopsided Ohio redistricting maps led voting rights groups to urge that GOP officials be held in contempt for defying court orders to draw less partisan congressional and state House and Senate district lines.
Without justices who can act as a partisan check against the GOP-dominated Legislature, “it’s likely the Republican maps will be rubber-stamped by the court,” said Wright State University Professor Lee Hannah. “Ohioans will use the same state maps for the next election cycle.”
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