by Sam Hieb
News & Record reports on yesterday’s district court hearing in Greensboro challenging the state General Assembly’s redrawn districts in response to charges of racial gerrymandering.
As the N&R’s headline states, two Guilford County districts played key roles in the four-hour hearing. The districts–one a House district and the other a Senate district–are currently held by Democrats—Rep. Pricey Harrison and Sen. Gladys Robinson:
Harrison’s and Robinson’s districts were two of four statewide in which racial gerrymandering problems had not remedied, the plaintiffs contend. The other two districts with racial demographics still allegedly out of whack are located in the Fayetteville and Goldsboro areas, they argue.
….Harrison’s district anchored in Greensboro was one where legislators allegedly had not only failed to improve the racial demographic, but actually made them worse in its new version. The district went from a “black voting age population” of just under 51 percent in its original, unconstitutional version to almost 61 percent in the supposedly repaired edition, the plaintiffs argued in a recent petition.
….Harrison, a retired communications lawyer who attended the hearing, said she thought that questions posed by Eagles and Wynn tended to favor the voter-plaintiffs, while Schroeder’s hewed more toward the defendants.
Harrison said she would be surprised if the judges put their “stamp of approval” on the redrawn maps, but isn’t sure that any ruling will go beyond the limited number of revised districts that have been challenged.
“It seemed to me that there were more problematic districts than that,” she said.
The three judges–District Court judges Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder and U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Wynn Jr. will issue a ruling a later date, but as the N&R points out they did order both sides to to submit names of persons who could serve as a “special master”— an administrator appointed by judges to oversee aspects of a lawsuit. The N&R speculates “perhaps, in this case, redrawing election districts that the court decides legislators failed to get right after two tries.”