A House committee on Wednesday approved a proposal for new judicial election districts, in a 21-8 party-line vote, that would rework the District Court and Superior Court districts for judges and prosecutors.
The redistricting is the first of its kind in more than 50 years and opinions on the redistricting range from those who believe it is past due to those who think the districts should be left alone.
The bill including the redistricting is HB717, sponsored by Rep Justin Burr (R-Stanly).
During the four-hour meeting, not including the midday recess, the committee tasked with the judicial redistricting heard from those assembled in the room before lunch during the public comment period on the bill.
None who spoke at the meeting were supportive of the redistricting; ranging from some calling for more input from the public to some accusing the state leaders of initiating a coup-de-tat to take over the state.
Doug Johnson, of Wake County, called the redistricting bill a truck full of homemade bomb making materials including charcoal, fertilizer, diesel fuel and blasting caps, saying that the legislation may not be negative or dangerous in nature, but it does not seem that way.
“It’s hard to believe that a truck full of tools of one party rule is not on its way to protect one party rule,” he said.
Johnson also said that the legislators were acting as if North Carolina were a failed state and that the legislators were acting as dictators.
Johnson said that the behavior from Republicans leading the effort was “neither a conservative or a constitutional way to do business.”
Michael Eisenberg, from Wake County, called the meeting an unconstitutional assembly and derided the courts for not intervening in the process.
He said that the redistricting effort was a plan to steal the courts for partisan politics and initiate a coup-de-tat, to which Burr smiled drawing criticism from Eisenberg during his public comment.
He also said that if the effort is successful that the “judiciary becomes a rubber stamp for their benefactors the Koch brothers and Art Pope” and that it would mean the end of democracy in North Carolina.
Others criticized the speed with which the effort seemed to be happening.
A representative speaking for the NC League of Women Voters of Wake County said that the league recognized the need for redistricting from time to time but instead requested a study be undertaken to decide whether there is a need for redistricting and to create a more transparent process for undertaking a redistricting.
Cheryl Tongue, of Wake County, called on legislators to slow down as well and take into account the opinions of the public more heavily.
Another, Anne Robotti from Morrisville, told legislators that they had lost the trust of the people through this process and called on legislators to stop and do the business of the people.
“You have lost the right to the automatic trust of the people,” she said. “Do what we elected you to do, make our lives better through wise government and stop scrambling to keep your seats.”