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So, some aspects/thoughts of the 356-page opinion (with screenshots) regarding the NC redistricting/partisan gerrymandering case that was handed down this afternoon & holding the state legislative maps unconstitutional. #ncpol

Official copy found here: nccourts.gov/assets/inline-…
First, the court (after giving a history of this case for 291 pages) gives the constitutional reasoning for striking down the state legislative maps, first basing it on NC Constitution's 'Free Elections Clause" found in the Declaration of Rights: ncleg.gov/EnactedLegisla… #ncpol
As noted, the court finds that the Free Election Clause has had very little judicial interpretation, but that "all acts" related to elections should allow for "fair and honest elections." #ncpol
The court finds that the Free Elections Clause is "a fundamental right" of NC citizens & that is a "compelling government interest," seeming to rank it as a high level of judicial review and scrutiny. They then go on to investigate the role of partisan gerrymandering. #ncpol
The NC court finds partisan gerrymandering equating to "vote dilution" through either "packing" voters into a district or "cracking" voters. Both are key concepts in partisan gerrymandering. But the ultimate effect is that a vote "carries less weight" & "less consequence" #ncpol
In finding that partisan gerrymandering dilutes votes, the court holds that such map manipulations "devalues votes of some citizens compared to others" and contrary to NC fundamental freedoms & rights found in the Declaration of Rights #ncpol
The Court: "Voters are not freely choosing their representatives. Rather, representatives are choosing their voters. It is not the will of the people that is fairly ascertained through extreme partisan gerrymandering. Rather, it is the will of the map drawers that prevails."
The court then traces the history of the Free Elections Clause back to the 1689 English Bill of Rights, when kings sought to manipulate legislative districts, "including by changing the electorate in different areas to achieve 'electoral advantage.'" #ncpol
Well, this should be fun: the court cites a publication regarding the Free Election Clause written by...wait for it...a current sitting associate justice of the NC Supreme Court (where this case will ultimately end up)--Associate Justice Paul Newby:
The court finds that, based on expert testimony, Democratic voters "cannot meaningfully seek to redress their grievances or amend the laws consistent with their policy preferences when they cannot obtain a majority of the General Assembly." #ncpol #ncga
The court, after finding violations of the NC Constitution's Free Elections Clause, then moves to discuss the violations to the state's Equal Protection Clause. Again, this is based on the North Carolina state Constitution, not the federal constitution:

#ncpol
In reviewing the Equal Protection Clause (EPC) to the state constitution, the court holds that it applies "strict scrutiny" to any government action/measures that deals with a fundamental freedom (basically, the highest level of review that a court can give to acts): #ncpol
In noting that the NC courts have applied a more forceful interpretation to EPC than the federal courts, it lays out the test that is similar to the federal courts investigating issues of equal protection:

#ncpol
Notice the end reference at the second screenshot: to US Associate Justice Kagan's dissenting opinion in the Rucho case, where the majority held federal courts can't get involved in state partisan gerrymandering redistricting cases.
The court finds intent and effects in the partisan gerrymandering of NC state legislative district maps, even citing one of the legislative defendant's expert witnesses.

#ncpol
The court then uses the NC Constitution's "Free Speech" clause and finds that the partisan gerrymandering violates it as well:
In addition, the NC court cites the "freedom of assembly" found in the NC Constitution as a source of violation by the 2017 state legislative maps as well:

#ncpol
So, it seems like the rest of this is 'moot' following Sen. Berger's announcement, but a quick recap what the court is ordering #NCGA to do: it doesn't have to redo the Special Master's districts (another case), can protect incumbents, can't use Election Data in redrawing...
new maps must comply with Voting Rights Act; redrawing must be done in 2 weeks (!); maps must be 'drawn in public view'; if outside consultants are used by Republicans, the court must grant approval for those individuals; and then there's this little sword hanging over #NCGA
Oh, and just in case folks who were thinking about running in 2020, the court says this:
Further components of the Court order:
And further components of the Court's order:
The Court holds that the following criteria can be used by the #NCGA for redistricting (and what they *can't* use):

#ncpol
A summary screenshot of the Court's requirements in redrawing the state legislative districts:
And the order is signed by all three judges:

#ncpol #fin
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