Three federal judges have spoken, and Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly have no choice but to come up with new legislative district maps. The old ones – drawn in 2011 when Republicans, inexperienced in leadership but obsessed with partisanship, took control – have been found unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering.
But even though Republicans likely have their new maps in a drawer already, it doesn’t appear leaders are eager to invite public discussion in hearings. They’ve yet to announce any hearings, even though the court deadline for new maps is Sept. 1 and GOP leaders say they’ll vote on Aug. 24 or 25.
Indications are that the public may have plenty to say, and those comments are not likely to come accompanied by bouquets of flowers. The long and winding road in the courts of the GOP-drawn maps – clearly geared with the main objective being to give the party an advantage in future elections by packing African-American voters into a few districts and thus diminishing their power in others – has been bumpy and embarrassing.
So let’s hope members of the public keep a close eye on the promised upcoming hearings, and that residents turn out and are heard. Their participation is vital, even if GOP leaders don’t care for dissent about their actions. But they have earned feedback, plenty of it.