by Rick Henderson
Editor-in-Chief, Carolina Journal
In a unanimous, 171-page opinion, a special panel of three Superior Court judges upheld the legislative and congressional districts drawn by the 2011 General Assembly. From the opinion:
It is the ultimate holding of this trial court that the redistricting plans enacted by the General Assembly in 2011 must be upheld and that the Enacted Plans do not impair the constitutional rights of the citizens of North Carolina as those rights are defined by law. This decision was reached unanimously by the trial court. In other words, each of the three judges on the trial court — appointed by the North Carolina Chief Justice from different geographic regions and each with differing ideological and political outlooks — independently and collectively arrived at the conclusions that are set out below.
State Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, who were the chief map-drawers for the General Assembly, issued this joint statement:
This unanimous decision should put to rest the baseless arguments that the General Assembly engaged in racial discrimination during the redistricting process. The court’s unanimous decision is a clear repudiation of the unfounded assertions of the plaintiffs, and is proof that the General Assembly followed the letter and spirit of the law in establishing new voting boundaries that are fair and legal. We are pleased that the unanimous decision makes clear that the General Assembly protected the rights of minority voters, as required by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.
Plaintiffs — including the state Democratic Party and the NAACP — have 30 days to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.