A Stanford law professor hired by a three-judge panel to redraw North Carolina’s legislative districts testified Friday in a federal courtroom in Greensboro. Special Master Nathaniel Persily explained his changes to the district under questioning from judges and attorneys for Republican lawmakers.
The judges tapped Persily to fix some districts that critics said remained racially gerrymandered even after the courts forced state officials to redraw them last year. Persily said his maps trimmed off some finger-like extensions that the old maps had used to reach targeted neighborhoods.
He says overall his districts are more compact, use actual municipal boundaries better, and addressed concerns about packing too many minorities into too few districts.
During the hearing, Attorney’s for the GOP-led legislature presented their own expert to counter Persily’s maps. Doug Johnson said it appeared that Persily relied too heavily on race, as if he were trying to hit some target number of black voters – a claim Persily denied.
Judge Jim Wynn questioned why Johnson couldn’t have worked with Persily rather than criticizing his maps after they were completed. The judges did not make an immediate decision on whether to accept Persily’s maps for this year’s election. Candidates are scheduled to file for office in February.