Cooper’s selective constitutionalism in redistricting fight

Carolina Journal – Before Gov. Roy Cooper and his surrogates accuse the N.C. General Assembly of “thumbing its nose at the North Carolina Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court,” the governor might want to reflect on his own actions in connection with legislative electoral redistricting.

The best place to start involves a question: What is the North Carolina governor’s constitutional role in the redistricting process? The answer: None.

Sure, Cooper has a right to comment on redistricting. He can criticize the General Assembly as much as he wants. With the bully pulpit of the state’s top elected executive office, his comments and criticism are bound to attract attention.

But, as governor, Cooper plays zero role in creating North Carolina’s election maps for the General Assembly or Congress. Neither the constitution nor state law calls on him to draw maps, to order others to draw maps, or to review maps once they’re completed. In fact, laws spelling out legislative and congressional election maps face a clear exemption from the governor’s review. You can find that exemption in Article II, Section 22 of the state constitution.

Unlike other recent disputes pitting the Democrat Cooper against the Republican-led legislature, disagreement about election districts has no direct impact on the governor’s ability to exercise executive authority. Legislative districts help determine the composition of the legislative branch alone.

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