North Carolina Republicans’ Gerrymandered Map Could Flip at Least Three House Seats

Republicans openly acknowledged the advantage they were drawing for themselves. “There’s no doubt that the congressional map that’s before you today has a lean towards Republicans,” State Representative Destin Hall, the chairman of the redistricting committee, said on the floor, while adding that legislators had “complied with the law in every way.” (Mr. Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The new map and the events that led to it illustrate both the power of gerrymandering to render voters’ preferences electorally irrelevant, and the extent to which control of the House is being determined by courts’ interpretation of what lines are permissible.

North Carolina has long been one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, as well as the subject of years of legal battles. Last year, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that a previous gerrymandered map was illegal, and court-drawn lines were used in the midterm elections, producing more competitive districts and, ultimately, an evenly divided congressional delegation.

But something else also happened in the midterms: A Republican won a seat on the state Supreme Court, flipping it from a Democratic to a Republican majority. Though none of the facts had changed except the composition of the court, the justices promptly threw out the 2022 ruling, opening the door for Republican legislators to restore their party’s advantage.

In several other states, the courts are also prevailing.

In Wisconsin, where voters recently elected a liberal justice, the state Supreme Court is widely expected to rule against an existing Republican gerrymander. In Alabama, a court ordered a map this month that includes two districts, instead of one, where Black voters have or are close to a majority. That change, stemming from a United States Supreme Court decision earlier this year, will most likely result in one more Democratic representative.

The same Supreme Court ruling could lead to a new majority-Black district in Louisiana, though that is tied up in another lawsuit. Separately, a contentious redistricting process is on the table in New York.