Civil Rights Groups Sue Over NC Voter Maps
Several civil rights groups including the NAACP, League of Women Voters and Democracy NC filed a suit in state court today alleging racial bias in new voting district boundaries. The maps were drawn by Republican state lawmakers and won approval from the U.S. Justice Department this week. NAACP North Carolina President William Barber says the maps may have passed federal muster, but won't stand up to North Carolina state law. "Thank God in our state right after the Civil War blacks and whites re-wrote our constitution and they put protections in," says Barber. "That was at a time when progressive black and whites were engaged in 'fusion politics,' trying to move the state forward." Federal law only requires the Department of Justice to sign off on boundaries for voting districts with a history of discrimination or large minority population. The equal protection clause of the North Carolina Constitution applies statewide, which is why the NAACP and other groups are challenging the maps in state court. Thursday, Democratic state lawmakers filed a similar lawsuit in the same court. Both argue that Republicans split counties and neighborhoods in an effort to isolate black voters and limit their influence.