GOP leadership releases statement on proposed congressional districts
Here's excerpts from the statement by Senator Bob Rucho and Representative David Lewis regarding the proposed 2011 Congressional Plan (click the link to download the entire thing):
From the beginning, our goal has remained the same: the development of fair and legal congressional and legislative districts. Our process has included an unprecedented number of public hearings (36) scheduled before the release of any maps. These included an unprecedented number of hearings in (24) counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In another unprecedented act, we provided the Legislative Black Caucus with staff support and computer technology resulting in costs to the General Assembly in excess of $60,000. We also decided to schedule twenty-five public hearings to give the public an opportunity to comment on legislative and Congressional maps. Consistent with the guidance provided by the North Carolina Supreme Court in Stephenson v Bartlett 355 N.C. 354 (2002), our first public hearing was focused on our proposed VRA legislative districts. Our second public hearing, scheduled for July 7, 2011, will give the public an opportunity to comment on our proposed Congressional plan. Finally, our third public hearing, scheduled for July 18, 2011 will solicit feedback on our proposed legislative plans.
Today we are pleased to release our proposed 2011 Congressional Plan. We believe that our proposed Congressional plan fully complies with applicable federal and state law. We also believe that a majority of North Carolinians will agree that our proposed plan will establish Congressional districts that are fair to North Carolina voters.
Unlike state legislative districts, there are very few constitutional criteria that apply to legislative districts. Some of the factors we considered include the following:
• Creating More Competitive Districts:
The federal and state constitutions allow legislatures to consider partisan impacts in making Congressional redistricting decisions. While we have not been ignorant of the partisan impacts of the districts we have created, we have focused on ensuring that the districts will be more competitive than the districts created by the 2001 legislature. Along these lines we wish to highlight several important facts. First, in twelve of our proposed thirteen districts, in the 2008 General Election, more voters voted for Democratic candidate for Attorney General, Roy Cooper than those who voted for the Republican candidate. Second, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in ten of our proposed thirteen districts. Finally, the combination of registered Democrats plus unaffiliated voters constitute very significant majorities in all thirteen districts.
• Compliance with “one person one vote”:
Based upon several decisions by the United States Supreme Court, Congressional districts must be drawn at equal population. See Westberry v Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964); Karcher v Daggett, 466 U.S. 910 (1984). The ideal population for a North Carolina Congressional district under the 2010 census is 733,499. Our proposed districts meet this constitutional requirement.
Re-drawing districts with equal population necessitated significant changes in the boundary lines of the current districts. Revisions were required because six of the current Congressional districts are significantly under-populated below the ideal number. (Districts 1, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 11). In contrast, seven districts are over-populated above the ideal number (2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 12, and 13). The population shift between our thirteen districts is largely the result of more rapid growth in the Mecklenburg/Piedmont and Research Triangle areas of the state as compared to more rural areas located in eastern and western North Carolina.