by Sam Hieb
News & Observer columnist Ned Barnett expressive some wishful thinking regarding the recent federal court ruling that North Carolina’s 13 Congressional districts were gerrymandered:
The ruling represents the strongest argument yet against the line-drawing tactic that has warped election outcomes and polarized politics.
In the short term, the ruling adds confusion to a November election already clouded by court fights over whether proposed constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot and the party designation of a state Supreme Court candidate. But the temporary confusion is well worth it for the lasting relief this ruling could bring.
Republican legislative leaders who were defendants in the suit will appeal to the Supreme Court and seek a stay of the panel’s ruling pending the outcome of their appeal. But the appeal is the response wanted by the plaintiffs, Common Cause and The League of Women Voters. This a chance to turn the Republicans’ reckless political mischief in North Carolina into a Supreme Court ruling that could benefit the nation.
Barnett quotes a UNC professor who says the federal court ruling ” is clearly writing for an audience of one – Chief Justice John Roberts.” Indeed, Roberts is considered a swing vote on the Supreme Court. But in this case, there is one other justice who should be considered, and it’s not who you might think it is—Justice Elena Kagan, when hearing a North Carolina racial gerrymandering case in 2016, uttered the line “if it’s politics, it’s fine; if it’s race, it’s not.”