Does “fairness” in legislative maps require proportionality by race or party? | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the John Locke Foundation. The author of this post is Dr. Andy Jackson.

    WRAL reported yesterday about the kurfuffle over Cheif Justice Paul Newby pointing out that there is not a "fair elections" clause in the North Carolina Constitution. Newby made the comment during oral arguments in the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters v Hall redistricting case on February 2.

    "We have 'free.' We don't have 'fair.' They have 'free and fair, correct?" Newby asked, apparently misquoting the Pennsylvania constitution.

    "That is true," responded Zach Schauf, a lawyer representing the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, one of three plaintiffs whose cases were combined in the ongoing legal challenge.

    Schauf then went on to say that another part of the North Carolina Constitution creates the same effect of a fair elections clause:

    "This court also has the equal protection clause, which Stephenson [v. Bartlett] interpreted to require substantially equal voting power, substantially equal legislative representation and equal representational influence," Schauf said. "So we think you get to the same place."

    What do those phrases mean in Stephenson v. Bartlett? Each is found one time in the ruling:

  • "substantially equal voting power" - pages 37 and 41
  • substantially equal legislative representation - page 41
  • "the same [not "equal"] representational influence" - page 34

    Each of those phrases was written in the context of complying with the Voting Rights Act and the "one-person, one-vote" principle stated in Article II, sections 3 and 5 of the North Carolina Constitution (and implied in the US Constitution) requiring districts to be roughly equal in population. The application in Stephenson was to functionally prohibit legislative maps in which some voters were located in single-member legislative districts while others were located in multimember districts.

    So, is it proper to assume that Stephenson implies proportionality in election outcomes? A plain reading of the court's order shows that it was about the size of districts, not the political outcome of those districts.

    What about the Voting Rights Act (VRA)? Here is what Section 2 of the VRA says about the proportionality of election results:

    Provided, That nothing in this section establishes a right to have members of a protected class elected in numbers equal to their proportion in the population.

    That is why, for example, the VRA does not require North Carolina to draw three out of fourteen (21%) congressional districts in which black voters can collectively "elect representatives of their choice" even though blacks make up about 22% of the population.

    Race is a protected class under the VRA. Party affiliation is not. Even if the VRA required proportionality on race, as the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters demonstrated in the congressional map they submitted in the redistricting lawsuit, helping Democrats win more seats is not the same thing as helping blacks win more seats.

    In short, there is nothing in the interpretation of the North Carolina Constitution, the US Constitution, or the Voting Rights Act found in Stephenson v. Bartlett that requires proportionality by race, and certainly not proportionality by political party.
Go Back

Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )

Freedom Convoy descends on New Zealand capital (UPDATED) John Locke Foundation Guest Editorial, Editorials, Op-Ed & Politics LeBron James Nominated For ‘Worst Actor’ Of The Year For Performance In New Space Jam Movie


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Tragedy unfolded at today's coronation after King Charles lost control of his ice powers and froze most of London.
Republican and independent voters in Nassau County, New York, this week were shocked to find out that they had changed parties after all the voter information cards mailed out before an upcoming primary mistakenly identified every voter as a Democrat.
RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper has appointed R.E. “Chip” Hawley to serve as the Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. He will fill the vacancy created when Director Robert Schurmeier’s term ends on June 30, 2023.
As the State Treasurer nears the end of his political career, Folwell still has some things to say
North Carolina Republican Dan Bishop said this week that the Bank of America provided the FBI with private financial information about anyone who was in Washington, D.C., from January 5-7, 2021.
The N.C. Court of Appeals has ruled unanimously against plaintiffs challenging removal of a Confederate monument from the Chatham County Courthouse property.
Media outlets and others scrambled this week after a white pregnant woman was widely vilified on social media as a racist after a video went viral of a confrontation over a bike, and the woman’s lawyer has said they plan to file defamation lawsuits.


Deprived of free group therapy after late-night shows were shut down by the writers' strike, liberals have found themselves now having to pay for actual psychotherapy.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) reported former San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller to U.S. Capitol Police this week after Miller allegedly sent him a threatening message on Twitter.
On Monday, The North Carolina Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 579, “Prevent Harm to Children,” which increases penalties for presenting obscene materials to minors.
The reason Disney canceled constructing a $1 billion office complex in Orlando has little to do with Governor Ron DeSantis’ battle against the company’s woke priorities, Daily Wire editor emeritus Ben Shapiro said on his show Friday.
Legendary NFL running back Jim Brown, one the league’s first superstars, has died. He was 87 years old.
After word got out that an FBI whistleblower was accusing Joe Biden of taking bribes during his time as Vice President, the President quickly told his advisors that he needed to spin the "Wheel of Distraction" to get everyone talking about something else.
Author and crime expert Heather Mac Donald said during an interview Tuesday night that recent acts of mass lawlessness in inner cities that have gone viral on social media are the direct result of the political Left’s demonization of law enforcement as “racist.”


Back to Top