Friday, June 17, 2011

State GOP tries to maneuver around redistricting battle

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Rep. Thom Tillis
  • Rep. Thom Tillis

And guess who's all up in this? Mecklenburg County's Rep. Thom Tillis, of course.

In case you missed the news — what with all the other budget-related concerns circulating, the Institute for Southern Studies offers a great summary of what's up in the General Assembly's never-ending game of politics for the politicians, by the politicians:

If you're a Republican legislator eager to redraw your state's political lines to your party's favor in time for the 2012 elections, but fear opposition from a state Democratic attorney general and the Obama Justice Department, what to do?

Sneak little-noticed language into the bottom of a budget bill that allows you to bypass your redistricting foes, of course -- even if it could end up costing your state time and money in the process.

At least that's the approach favored by GOP lawmakers in the battleground state of North Carolina, and based on a similar strategy used in Texas and other Southern states this spring.

N.C. House Republicans hoped their plan would largely fly under the radar of Democrats and the media. But it was unintentionally made public last week, when a microphone was left on during a closed-door GOP caucus strategy session, causing the proceedings to be directly broadcast to the state press corps.

The plan revealed by mic-gate: Instead of submitting North Carolina's redistricting plan to the Department of Justice -- where it needs pre-clearance because 40 of the state's counties are covered by the Voting Rights Act -- the GOP law would allow the state's Legislative Services Commission to directly present the plan to a district court in D.C.

That would allow the Republican-drawn lines to bypass being approved by the Department of Justice, which would merely be an opposing party in the case if it has objections.

The leaked audio has House Speaker Thom Tillis describing the plan, which he also warned was "extremely sensitive" and shouldn't be publicly discussed:

The plan all along has been to submit this to the courts, rather than the Department of Justice, since this will be the first redistricting plan under the Voting Rights Act submitted to a DOJ controlled by Democrats, let alone Obama.

Read the rest of this article, by Chris Kromm, here.

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