Richard Fausset for the NYT:
The court ordered the legislature to redraw the maps, and this week, lawmakers set about their work in a special session. But this time, there would be a key difference: Race would not be factored into the mapmaking at all.
“Race was not considered, and is not present in these reports,” State Representative David R. Lewis, a Republican and co-chairman of the redistricting committee, told his colleagues on the House floor Friday. But Democrats argued that Republicans erred in ignoring race altogether. Representative G. K. Butterfield, an African-American, wrote to state legislative leaders, saying that the court “stated that race should not be the predominant factor in drawing the districts. However, the court did not say that race should not be a factor at all.”…
House Democrats on Friday also assailed Republicans for stating that the new map was drawn up to ensure that they would enjoy a partisan advantage. While Democrats also acknowledged that their party had engaged in its share of partisan gerrymandering in the many decades that it controlled the legislature, they argued that Democrats did not engage in the practice to the same degree.
State Senator Josh Stein, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, noted that North Carolina was the state that President Obama most narrowly won in 2008 and most narrowly lost in 2012. “North Carolina is a 50-50 state, and yet this map all but guarantees 10 out of our 13 congressional delegations will be Republican,” he said. “We live in North Carolina, not North Korea. The voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”
Some Democrats were also hoping that the three-judge panel of the lower court would now reject the altered map on the grounds that it violated the Voting Rights Act. Republican legislators had held out hope on Friday that the Supreme Court would issue a stay.