Rep. G.K. Butterfield to Berger, Moore: GOP Redistricting Plan Violates Voting Rights Act | News

Rep. G.K. Butterfield to Berger, Moore: GOP Redistricting Plan Violates Voting Rights Act

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On Wednesday afternoon, Rep G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.-01) publicly released a letter he'd sent to the N.C. Senate president and House Speaker, blasting the the GOP plan to completely eliminate race as a consideration when complying with a federal court order to redraw congressional district maps.

Republicans in the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting included that instruction to hired mapmakers, in response to the Feb. 5 ruling that district maps drawn five years ago by Republicans were invalid, due to racial gerrymandering.


From The News & Observer:

"The only way to make sure race is not predominant is to make sure it is not a factor,” [said Rep. David Lewis, committee co-chairman and a Republican from Harnett County].

[Democratic Sen. Dan Blue Jr.] asked whether Lewis was seriously proposing to create minority districts without taking into account what minorities live there.

“I long for the day, just like you, Rep. Lewis, when we can do that,” Blue said. “I hope it’s sooner rather than later. But I don’t think it’s wise to spit in the eye of three federal judges who control where we’re going to go with redistricting.”

On Wednesday, Butterfield joined Blue and other Democratic lawmakers in voicing those concerns.


Here is the text of Butterfield's letter:


Dear President Pro Tempore Berger and Speaker Moore:

I take strong exception to several of the criteria adopted by the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting to be used in drawing a 2016 Congressional Plan in response to the February 5, 2016 decision in Harris v. McCrory. 

The enacted criteria do not comply with the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or basic fairness.  My objections include, but are not limited to, the following criteria:

1. "...data identifying the race of individuals or voters shall not be used in the construction or consideration of districts…” It is a clear violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to draw districts that do not protect the voting interest of African American communities. To concentrate black voters into districts that dilute their voting strength is a violation of the law.  In Harris v. McCrory, 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.

2. “… the Committee shall construct districts in the 2016 Contingent Congressional Plan that eliminate the current configuration of the Twelfth District.” It is inconsistent with the law for you to eliminate a voting rights district that the court has previously held to be constitutional prior to the 2011 congressional redistricting.  Any new configuration of the 12th congressional district should not dilute African American voting strength.

3. “The Committee shall make reasonable efforts to construct districts…to maintain the current partisan makeup of North Carolina’s congressional delegation.”

The courts have held that there are limits to political gerrymandering and the current Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts does not account for the fact that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state. 

Therefore, the current 10 Republican to 3 Democrat composition of the NC congressional delegation should not be maintained. The above criteria are inconsistent with the law and the committee should immediately adopt new standards for redrawing the maps.

Very truly yours,
G. K. Butterfield
Member of Congress

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