We have had a break from our engagement as a team. Since the legislature is no longer in regular session, our need to be physical present is less than earlier in the year.
However, the House and Senate are coming back this week, once more, for a ‘special session.’ Among other things they will consider a bill on Judicial Redistricting. We oppose this bill and I strongly urge you to call your representatives either Monday or Tuesday to ask them to vote against House Bill 717. If you are still unsure of how to contact your reps go to www.ncleg.net to find their numbers and email addresses.
We try to limit the number of ‘urgent’ asks we make of you, but this one is truly important and a central part of what Politica NC stands for.
We are fortunate to have some excellent talking points prepared by the League of Women Voters, an ally of ours in the fight against partisan redistricting. See below for talking points when you make these calls or leave messages.
Please make this a priority in the next two days.
From the League (with thanks!):
As many of you know, the House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting approved the proposed maps in House Bill 717 despite public comment that overwhelmingly advised against this. Both retired and sitting judges spoke against these maps. Furthermore, the NC Courts Commission recommended putting off a decision on judicial maps until next year.
Nevertheless, it is very likely that these maps will go to the House for a vote this coming week. If the bill passes the House, it will then go to the Senate for approval. Please contact your representative and senator Monday or Tuesday (before they go into session on Wednesday). LWV-Wake’s official statement regarding H717 is attached.
Here’s what we are asking:
Vote against new judicial districts at this time.
Initiate an in-depth study of judicial redistricting using relevant nonpartisan data.
Adopt a process that more significantly includes input from voters, judges, the legal community, law enforcement, and others.
Adopt a more transparent process for judicial redistricting.
Read what people at the House Select Committee Meeting on Judicial Redistricting heard
These are notes of someone, a trusted source, in the hearing on the House Select Cmte on Judicial Redistricting:
“With 19 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the committee – a total overhaul of how voters vote for judges was passed. 32% of all current district court judges will be running against each other with 53% of all African American judges double-bunked compared to 26% of white judges. And Durham will lose 2 judges to rural counties even though we are one of fastest growing districts in NC. We should not be disenfranchising voters to vote for judges who have jurisdiction over them. HB717 must be shut down with a more deliberate look at our court system, not a political hack job.”
The League of Women Voters of Wake County had three members at the September 19 meeting of the House’s Select Cmte on Judicial Redistricting. Here is a small excerpt from their notes:
“Most of the meeting was devoted to hearing remarks from members of the legal community followed by representatives’ questions of those presenting. None of those speaking on behalf of judges and lawyers were in favor of H717 which would create new judicial and prosecutorial districts. All urged the legislature to undertake a study of judicial districts and to adopt a more transparent process that includes input from the public and the legal community.”
“Representative Burr (Chair of the Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting): After all the presentations and questions from other representatives on the committee, Burr proceeded to argue that it was time for redistricting. He argued that judicial districts should serve the public not lawyers implying that somehow the current districts favored attorneys’ or judges’ interests. He did not respond at all to any of the suggestions for careful study and a more transparent process.”
Learn more about HB717 and why you should work against its passage:
The discussion regarding judicial redistricting begins at the 10:33 mark on the video. Former state Senator Howard Lee says that he is “very unsettled . . . (judicial) districts that would be based on partisan (legislative) districts would probably end up having partisanism come in to the judgeships more than any other time.” http://www.ncspin.com/nc-spin-episode-986-air-date-9242017/
And don’t we all know that this issue will be resolved in our courts!
Talking points on HB717
Process for redistricting should be a transparent and deliberate one
Administration of law and justice should be primary concern when redistricting
We need stability and predictability in courts
This plan will result in increased travel expense and travel time
Search warrants may take an extra day or two to get because of proximity to a judge.
Travel and nights away from home would deter younger lawyers and females from running for a judicial seat
One result will be increased work load for staff
Availability of judges in emergency situations will be decreased
All of this haste and lack of input by the public is detrimental to public confidence in the court system
We should respect historical geographical (county lines) boundaries.