Nicholas Stephanopoulos on Partisan Gerrymandering in North Carolina

The Supreme Court Has Never Struck Down a Partisan Voter Map. Will North Carolina’s Be the First?

North Carolina Republicans didn’t hide their goal when they approved a new congressional voting map in 2016: They wanted to give their party the biggest advantage possible.

“I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,” David Lewis, a Republican state representative who led the redistricting effort, said at the time.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider the North Carolina districts in a clash opponents hope will produce the court’s first-ever ruling striking down a map as too partisan. The justices hear arguments Tuesday in the case, along with a fight over a Democratic-drawn congressional district in Maryland.


“As far as we’ve been able to discern, this is the first time in American history that a legislature or a legislative body has explicitly ratified the pursuit of partisan advantage,” said Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a University of Chicago Law School professor and one of the lawyers pressing the challenge.

Judged by statistical measures, “the North Carolina plan is pretty much the worst congressional plan of the last half century,” Stephanopoulos said.

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