There’s a lot bubbling in the cauldron of North Carolina politics right now. For one, last month, the US Supreme Court rejected GOP challenges and allowed court-ordered Congressional NC maps to stand. Given that NC is historically one of the top-ten worst-gerrymandered states in the nation — per the NYT, the original map as drawn by GOP legislators “effectively gave their party at least 10 of the state’s 14 House seats, notwithstanding that voters statewide are roughly divided between the two parties” — this is a big deal.
At the heart of the GOP’s argument against fair maps is the “Independent State Legislature” (ISL) doctrine, which, according to Sister District Project co-founder Gaby Goldstein, would deny state courts “the power to reject laws adopted by a state legislature concerning federal elections.” ISL would thus empower an “antidemocratic effort to hand absolute power to often wildly gerrymandered state legislatures,” while defying constitutional precedent to boot.
The new, fairer maps will apply to the upcoming midterms THANK GOODNESS, but untrammeled jubilation is premature. Four conservative SCOTUS justices have indicated support for ISL, and it looks like the NC case may reappear on next year’s Court docket. We’ve got a temporary reprieve for midterms, but we’re not out of the gerrymandered woods yet! Read Gaby’s full analysis here.
Speaking Of Midterms…
Eighty-eight of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers will hold midterm elections in November, 2022. In NC, all 50 State Senate seats and all 120 State House seats will be up for grabs. True, we don’t yet know which state-legislative candidates SDP will be supporting — the decision process is taking an extra-long time this year, thanks to redistricting — but that’s not stopping us from going all in to support grassroots organizing power. Go gettem, NC A. Philip Randolph Education Fund and the Carolina Federation!
So why are we investing in North Carolina? For one, there are a few Really Important Races happening up-ballot, including a race for an open US Senate seat, for which former NC Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley (D) is running. She’s endorsed by an impressive roster, including SDP partner EMILY’s List, as well as the NRDC, Human Rights Campaign, NC Association of Educators, and Giffords. Appointed in 2019 by Governor Roy Cooper, Beasley is the first Black woman to hold that position; if elected, she’ll be first Black woman to represent NC in the US Senate.
Historical import aside, how critical is this race? If the GOP wins a single US Senate seat in November, Democrats will lose their majority, that’s how important. (Technically, 48 Democratic Senators currently serve, but Independents Angus King (ME) and Bernie Sanders (VT) caucus with Democrats.)
Then there’s the NC State Supreme Court. The Court currently comprises four Democrats and three Republicans, but two Democrats’ terms expire at the end of the year. (One is retiring, the other running for reelection.) North Carolina voters elect their seven State Justices by partisan election, meaning, again, GOTV is critical.
There’s no question the GOP is going to move heaven and earth to get out the vote in NC in November. “The single most important thing for Republicans is stopping Joe Biden, and you can’t stop Joe Biden unless you retake the Congress,” says former NJ Governor and briefly-anointed Trump toady Chris Christie. “In close states like North Carolina, you’re not going to win with just Republican votes. You’re going to need to get independent votes.”
Countering this push are organizations like Sister District, which supports progressive state legislators, and grassroots groups, like NCAPREF and Carolina Foundation, which work year-round to educate citizens, register voters, and get people to the polls. Citizens who are invested in their state legislative races will vote in their state legislative races… and are more likely to vote up-ballot as well. NC Blue in ’22, up and down the ballot!
Sister District Project MA&RI gives the lowdown on why state-level races are so vital to the nation’s health. SDP helps top-notch Democratic candidates win strategically important state elections across the country, and works to expand civic engagement. Originally published here.