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RALEIGH (Dec. 19, 2023) – North Carolina voters and nonpartisan voting rights groups filed a lawsuit in federal court today against the state legislature’s illegal gerrymandering of voting districts that attack the rights of Black North Carolinians.

The lawsuit was filed jointly by individual Black voters, NAACP North Carolina State Conference, and Common Cause. Attorneys with Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Hogan Lovells are representing the plaintiffs in the case.

The complaint alleges various harms from all three maps, including:

  • Unconstitutional intentional discrimination against Black voters in the Senate, House, and Congressional maps;
  • Vote dilution in violation of the Voting Rights Act in North Carolina’s Black Belt in both the Senate and House maps; 
  • Intentional vote dilution of Black electoral power in Congressional Districts 1, 5, 6, and 10;
  • Racial gerrymandering in Senate Districts 7 and 8;
  • Violation of one-person, one-vote in the Senate and House maps

TODAY: Common Cause North Carolina, SCSJ, and NAACP North Carolina will host a press briefing via Zoom to discuss the lawsuit at 10:30 a.m. today, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. To register to attend, click here.

The full complaint can be read here.

“We are honored and privileged to represent the North Carolina NAACP, Common Cause, and impacted voters to demand lawful voting plans in North Carolina,” said Hilary Harris Klein, Senior Voting Rights Counsel at Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The law clearly protects North Carolina’s Black voters. And yet, instead of responding to their needs, legislators are again targeting these communities for their own partisan gain.”

“Ahead of the 2024 Elections, NAACP is working tirelessly to ensure that every American has the opportunity to cast an effective ballot. These discriminatory maps are a clear attack on those efforts,” said Dominik Whitehead, Vice President of Campaigns at NAACP. “We are proud to stand alongside our North Carolina State Conference and fellow advocates as we fight back against any attempt to silence Black voices. This is just the beginning.”

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“Lawmakers know what they are doing. They are eroding the power of Black voters – power that was fought for over decades of violent discrimination and suffering,” said Deborah Maxwell, President of the NAACP North Carolina Conference. “Today, the NAACP stands defiant and proud with its partners, knowing that the will of the people cannot be defeated by the racist tactics of a few politicians.”

“North Carolina legislators have imposed discriminatory voting maps that outrageously attack the rights of Black North Carolinians. Sadly, racist gerrymandering once again plagues our state and harms voters. We must defeat it,” said Bob Phillips, Executive Director of Common Cause North Carolina. “Our voting districts don’t belong to politicians; our districts belong to the people. We must have voting maps that are free from racist gerrymandering and that respect the freedom of all voters.”

“Hogan Lovells is proud to join with our co-counsel at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to ensure that every individual, regardless of race, is guaranteed a fair right to vote and an equal opportunity to select their candidate of choice,” said Tom Boer, Partner at Hogan Lovells. “This is what the US Constitution, federal law, and, indeed a democratic society, demand.”

According to the complaint:

  • In 2023, the Republican-controlled legislature redrew state legislative and congressional districts to severely diminish the voting power of Black voters in North Carolina. 
  • Legislators achieved this by intentionally dismantling existing and longstanding state Senate and House Black opportunity districts, diluting Black voting power overall in North Carolina’s Black Belt, and by selectively targeting Black voters in this and other areas of the state. 
  • Legislators imposed these discriminatory districts in an intentionally rushed and deficient process that denied the opportunity for meaningful engagement to minority representatives and citizens, and showed clear disregard for the interests, needs, and desires of North Carolina’s Black voters. This process was calibrated to frustrate judicial review of the maps before the 2024 election.
  • Legislators targeted predominantly Black voting precincts with surgical precision throughout the state in drawing and enacting the 2023 plans – at the expense of traditional redistricting criteria – to achieve preferred district lines that diminish Black voters’ ability to elect candidates of their choice at all levels of government.
  • The effect of these actions is to inequitably reduce the electoral influence of Black lives in North Carolina in violation of the law and the United States Constitution. 
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Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. Learn more at southerncoalition.org.

Founded in 1943, the North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches (NAACP North Carolina State Conference) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in North Carolina, overseeing the programmatic work of over 120 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. The NAACP North Carolina State Conference is focused on advocating for policies and programs to benefit Blacks and people of color. Learn more at ncnaacp.org.

Common Cause, established in 1970, is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process. Learn more at commoncausenc.org.

Global law firm Hogan Lovells has a long tradition of supporting ground-breaking social developments, focusing on access to justice and the rule of law. As lawyers, we recognize this commitment is part of our professional practice and collectively we spend more than 150,000+ pro bono hours per year on work to achieve lasting impact for others. Learn more at www.hoganlovells.com.

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Felecia Phillips Ollie DD (h.c.) is the inspiring leader and founder of The Equality Network LLC (TEN). With a background in coaching, travel, and a career in news, Felecia brings a unique perspective to promoting diversity and inclusion. Holding a Bachelor's Degree in English/Communications, she is passionate about creating a more inclusive future. From graduating from Mississippi Valley State University to leading initiatives like the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Equal Employment Opportunity Program, Felecia is dedicated to making a positive impact. Join her journey on our blog as she shares insights and leads the charge for equity through The Equality Network.

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