Civil rights group contends plaintiffs lack standing by failing to meet basic standards for action under the Constitution and voting rights law.
Washington, DC.—The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), joined by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, has filed an amicus brief in favor of the defendants in the North Carolina redistricting case, Rucho v. Common Cause, to be heard by the Supreme Court on March 26.
The ACRU strongly disputes the claim that the 2010 North Carolina redistricting plan is unconstitutional after the plaintiffs, Common Cause and a number of North Carolina Democrats, contested its legality.
“The text of the First Amendment says nothing about voting,” argues the brief against the complaint that the redistricting map, drawn by duly elected majority Republican members of the North Carolina House Redistricting Committee, is unconstitutional. Other Amendments do protect voting against discrimination because of race, gender, age, or poll taxes, none of which are affected by political gerrymandering.
“The North Carolina district court that upheld the claims of the plaintiffs was wrong on all counts,” claims attorney John J. Park on behalf of the ACRU. “Established law, federal and state, is clear that redistricting is the responsibility of the legislative branch, and an incursion into state and voter rights by the judiciary should not occur.”
“For a state court to even take such a case against its own legislature, it must show specific, individual harm relating directly to First Amendment rights, and neither of these standards are met in this case,” says ACRU chairman and president Susan Carleson.
Numerous jurists in the past have affirmed the right and responsibility of state legislatures to reapportion voting districts in multiple opinions. They have recognized the inherent partisanship in such efforts and accepted since the Founding. Redistricting is, by nature, partisan.
Indeed, the ACRU brief notes, “… all legislative plans will include the consideration of partisan advantage.” The brief further argues that partisan consideration is not unconstitutional and that upholding the Common Cause position would undermine the entire voting system as each time a party or candidate is defeated, “they will bring political gerrymandering claims.”
Following the March 26 Supreme Court hearing, a decision is anticipated in June. “We trust the high court will uphold the Constitution, states’ rights, the separation of powers and the will of North Carolina voters, and find in favor of the duly elected members of the North Carolina House,” concludes Carleson.