Stanford Law Professor Could Help Draw NC Legislative Districts


Publish Date:
October 26, 2017
  • Blythe, Anne
The News Observer
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Federal judges announced their plans on Thursday to ask a Stanford University law professor to look at nine North Carolina legislative districts as they weigh the constitutionality of election maps adopted in August.

The news came in an order filed in federal court by the three-judge panel asked to decide whether the new maps correct 28 districts drawn in 2011 and later found to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

Judge Catherine Eagles informed the attorneys in the order that Nathaniel Persily, who has helped draw districts for New York, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut, would review North Carolina’s new legislative maps and possibly help the judges draw new lines for 2018.

Persily will be paid $500 an hour, which the judges described as half his typical hourly rate. The filing period for state legislative races is set to begin in February.

Persily has been quoted recently on law that could apply to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and whether there was collusion with the Donald Trump campaign. In 2015, his opinion piece titled “’One person, one vote’ isn’t broken and the Supreme Court shouldn’t fix it” was published in The Washington Post.

In October 2016, Persily co-wrote a piece with Jon Cohen, the chief researcher for SurveyMonkey, titled “Americans are losing faith in democracy — and in each other.”

In a decision that struck down two of North Carolina’s congressional districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, Kennedy dissented in part and joined conservative justices to argue that North Carolina packed the voters not because they were black but because they were Democrats. ‘‘Maybe a persuasive argument to Kennedy now is, ‘O.K., we’ve been fighting over gerrymanders through the poisonous lens of race,’ ’’ Persily was quoted as telling The New York Times. ‘‘ ‘We’d be better off calling them what they really are — partisan gerrymanders.’ ’’

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