Despite the assertions of Senate leaders, there remains some skepticism about whether the court will agree to enact the maps the legislature approves.
Stanford University professor and election law expert Nathaniel Persily was appointed Friday to help the court review the maps — and help draw new maps if the General Assembly’s lines are deemed unlawful.
“I would be surprised if this court accepts the maps that this General Assembly develops,” said freshman Democrat Sen. Michael Garrett. “I think the behavior of this body and the nearly decade of gamesmanship that’s gone on, there’s just too much mistrust.”
That mistrust has been amplified in recent months with the unearthing of files from longtime Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller, who died in 2018. Hofeller was thought of as something of a gerrymandering wizard, and the files, which have been reviewed by The New Yorker and The New York Times, added new details about his involvement in helping North Carolina lawmakers draw the maps to such a Republican advantage….
But an analysis done by Wang of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project found that the House map still contained between “one-half and two-thirds of the partisan advantage that was present in the illegal gerrymander.”
“To make an analogy to card games, a stacked deck can’t produce a fair deal,” Wang wrote. “And I have some questions about the deck.”
The whole process took place against a backdrop of extreme divide and tension last week that culminated on Wednesday when Republicans sprang a surprise vote on Democrats that had lawmakers screaming at each other on the House floor.
Later that day, a Democratic senator grabbed a reporter’s phone and threw it.
And all week, accusations flew about maps being drawn in secret and violations of the court order.
“It is a very intense, very partisan, very polarized environment that the state has been going through since 2008 really,” said J. Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in North Carolina.