Supreme Court decides federal courts cannot police gerrymandering

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A major Supreme Court decision affects everyone in the Piedmont.

The Supreme Court has decided to stay out of how voting districts are drawn. The justices are leaving that up to each state.

So what does that mean for North Carolina voters?

"Everybody does it these days. Everybody in power wants to keep their power and wants to increase their power. So this is about power and keeping it and increasing it," said Steve Friedland, a law professor at Elon University School of Law.

He says it's all about the numbers.

"They try to divide districts or shape districts to make sure they have the most number of representatives. Both parties do it, Republicans and Democrats," he said.

Gerrymandering isn't a simple concept.

"The party in power draws and redraws the boundaries," Friedland said. "Sometimes the boundaries look very odd because today, we have algorithms and data."

That data determines the maps with unusual boundaries and divides for voting districts. It's something that's heavily debated.

"Whether you like the idea of gerrymandering or not, often depends on if you're in power or not," Friedland said.

The Supreme Court decided Thursday they are not getting involved.

The majority of the justices said it is not their place for such a political question.

In a statement, North Carolina Sen. Ralph Hise (R) said "now it's time to move on."

He then quoted the Supreme Court's decision, in part, reading: "[it's] an unprecedented expansion of judicial power."

U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R) said, "The ruling is a rebuke of the activist judges who attempt to make laws and win elections."

Others say, they just want things to be fair.

"Gerrymandering preordains districts where they don't have any competition," said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause-North Carolina.

Common Cause was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court.

Phillips tells FOX8 he is working on a similar lawsuit in North Carolina court.

He believes this isn't what democracy should look like.

"It makes it where voters can't hold their elected representatives accountable," he said. "It basically leaves voters with no voice and no choice on Election Day."

But Phillips is hopeful the state will decide to make some changes.

"Where lawmakers are not drawing their own districts, where lawmakers are choosing their own voters," he said. "But the other way around. Where voters get to choose their representatives."

So what can happen next?

FOX8 is told either things will stay the same, or the state can make reforms on how districts or draw, or the state can create an independent commission to draw the maps.

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