March 2005, Volume 91, Issue 1|
State Redistricting Law: Stephenson v. Bartlett and Judicial Promotion of Electoral Competition
91 Va. L. Rev. 203 (2005)
This Note attempts to answer the question, "What can state courts do to solve problems in the legislative redistricting process?" To answer this question, the Note examines one recent case from the North Carolina Supreme Court, Stephenson v. Bartlett. At the time the suit was filed, the North Carolina redistricting process was already subject to many state and federal constitutional restraints, as well as the federal statutory restraints of the Voting Rights Act. Relying on a dubious interpretation of the state constitution's equal protection clause and an elevation of "traditional redistricting principles" to the level of a constitutional mandate, the North Carolina Supreme Court took the opportunity to create even more restraints on legislative redistricting process. Whitaker examines possible justifications for the opinion, and after rejecting textualist, purposivist and partisan political explanations, explains the opinion as an attempt by the judiciary to increase electoral competition by reducing the discretion of the state legislature over redistricting.
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