Butterfield: High court misjudges gerrymandering cases

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WASHINGTON — Wilson’s congressman said a Thursday ruling by the nation’s highest court that upholds state voting maps drawn for Republican legislative leaders’ political advantage undermines democracy.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-Wilson, expressed disagreement with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decisions in Rucho v. Common Cause and Benisek v. Lamone.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today has put the voice of America’s voters and our democratic process in grave danger,” Butterfield said in a prepared statement released Thursday. “I am deeply disappointed by the court’s ruling that partisan gerrymandering claims are beyond the reach of the federal courts. The court had an opportunity to issue a landmark decision that would make it clear what constitutes unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering and how to place limits on the practice. Instead, the court decided to turn a blind eye to blatant partisan gerrymandering and has now opened the door to continued abuse of position and power.”

Prior to representing North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, Butterfield served a one-year appointment as a state Supreme Court justice. He was a Superior Court judge for 12 years.

The congressman and former jurist said the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is flawed.

“Voters in North Carolina and across the country deserve to have an equal voice in the political process and this ruling serves only to silence and seclude,” Butterfield said. “Extreme partisan gerrymandering has no place in our democracy and with the court’s decision today, the practice will not only continue, but will increase in severity. I agree with Justice Kagan’s dissent and believe the majority on the court got this tragically wrong.”

Instead of allowing voters to elect their preferred candidates, Butterfield said the high court’s decisions essentially give elected officials the ability to select voters who are more likely to keep them in office.

“State legislators are using sophisticated technology to draw political boundaries to choose their voters rather than voters choosing their preferred candidates,” said Butterfield. “We must restrain legislatures from manipulating political boundaries to favor a political party.”