First, state judges told the North Carolina General Assembly to redraw the legislative district maps to reduce the Republican partisan advantages.
Now, state judges told the lawmakers to redraw the 13 U.S. congressional districts.
John Hood at the John Locke Foundation says the Republican legislature should seize the opportunity to codify a "fair" process and criteria:
Redistricting reform cannot itself be a partisan endeavor. Both political camps have to be willing to accept outcomes that don’t maximize their partisan interests but at least reduce their downside risk (of being egregiously gerrymandered) while giving voters more intelligible and competitive electoral districts.
The successful process ordered by the court for legislative maps, and likely to recur with the congressional ones, now needs to be endorsed by the general public and codified in law so that future legislatures won’t need the threat of litigation to do what is right.
Hood notes that Democrats are angling to dismantle the "county cluster" method:
They believe that too much deference to county lines, for example, puts Democrats in a disadvantageous position because their political base is disproportionately urban.
Their best hope for capturing the legislature is to reorganize the county clusters so they can attach clumps of urban voters to surrounding suburban and rural communities, creating new blue-leaning seats.
Keep this in mind as you read this piece from Scott Ford at the leftist NC Policy Watch:
Not only have [Republicans] been forced to devise maps according to standards that ensure a greater measure of fairness to all voters, in terms of having their voices heard, but they also must reckon with the potential fallout of the upcoming 2020 elections. Democrats gained seats in 2018. If they managed to build on those gains to the point where they seized a majority in one of the legislative chambers, Republicans no longer would have absolute control of the post census redistricting slated for 2021. They may be thinking, now’s the time to move toward a less partisan redistricting process before newly ascendant Democrats have a chance to turn the tables.
Notice the implicit admission - that Democrats will do the same thing the Republicans have done. It's a rare moment of honesty that only appears at the end of years-long litigation and the associated media campaign - where Democrats presented themselves as defenders and proponents of "fair maps" and "independent redistricting."
But this is simply not the case.
Democrats refused all attempts to change the redistricting system when they held power for more than a century in North Carolina. There is no reason to believe that they'd do so if they win back control of the legislature in 2020. Indeed, Democrats ignore the gerrymandering being done by Democrats in other states - right now. They don't oppose gerrymandering. They simply oppose it when Republicans do it.
It's such an obvious point, that even Thomas Mills sees it:
But let’s get real. Progressives’ commitment to redistricting reform is recent while the process has been going on for decades. A little over a decade ago, when Republicans were suing for better maps and introducing legislation to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission, progressives weren’t protesting the process and demanding Democrats end gerrymandering. They didn’t find their outrage until Republicans took control.
The rules in North Carolina state that the legislature draws the maps. Democrats had a chance to change that when they were in power. They intentionally left the process in place because they believed they would be drawing them in 2010, but they also believed that to the victors go the spoils and redistricting was part of the spoils.
So, if Republicans move to adopt a process that limits litigation, it might have the buy-in from enough voters - and Democrats - to succeed.
Might this have all been worth it?
And might this have been the entire point? In other words, to get Democrats to see how injurious their abuses were, was it necessary to subject them to it?
I doubt that this was some grand plan, as that would require some profound patience and incredible strategy.
Still, here we are.