In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled in Shaw v. Hunt that North Carolina's redistricting map was an unconstitutional "racial gerrymander." In early 1997, the state legislature worked to create a new map -- facing an April deadline in which a federal court could re-draw the districts as it saw fit. With an even 6-6 split in the congressional delegation, a relatively even split in the state's popular vote and bi-partisan control of the legislative process (Republicans control the lower house, and Democrats control the upper house), it was a classic opportunity for state legislators to work together to protect current incumbents. Most believe the map has succeeded in this mission; following are representative quotes from legislators during the redistricting process.
"We have a very bipartisan state. We can end up with four districts that are pretty safe Democratic and four that are pretty safe Republican and four that are swing. And if everybody can agree on that goal, which is pretty fair, then I think we ought to be able to get there."
* State Sen. Leslie Winner, 12/9/96 Associated Press
"You have a lot of people who have an interest in going to Congress. That became the most difficult part. . . . I would suggest...that nobody be put on the redistricting committee who won't swear an oath that they won't run for Congress themselves."
* State Rep. Robert Grady, 12/9/96 Associated Press
"None of us want it to be done by the court.. . . [The House plan] "recognizes racial fairness, but does have geographic compactness and keeps the partisan balance."
* State Rep. Ed Mahan, 2/15/97 Associated Press
"In general, an incumbent protection plan would create the least amount of change and would be the most acceptable plan to both sides."
* State Rep. Ed Mahan, 2/19/97 Associated Press
"We were looking at constituents choosing the congressmen, not the congressmen choosing the constituents."
* State Sen. Betsy Cochrane, 3/97 news story
Produced in July 1997 by
The Center for Voting and Democracy
PO Box 60037 Washington, DC 20039
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