Legislative Republicans filed an emergency motion on Monday in Wake County Superior Court seeking to block two liberal professors from helping review revised congressional and legislative maps.
The professors from Princeton and Brigham Young universities were assigned to help three special masters review technical aspects of the maps for a three-judge Superior Court panel, but were directly ordered by the court not to contact parties and witnesses in the lawsuit.
However, it’s been uncovered that two of the four assistants to the professors, Sam Wang of Princeton and Tyler Jarvis of BYU, engaged in “substantive ex parte communications” with the plaintiffs’ experts in the case. “Ex parte” is a legal term meaning that only one side of a legal dispute participated in the communication. The legislative defendants were informed on Sunday, Feb. 20, that the illegal communications also occurred on Friday, Feb. 18th.
The three-judge panel named former state Supreme Court Justices Bob Orr and Bob Edmunds and former UNC System President Thomas Ross to serve as special masters. Ross is also a former judge and director of the state Administrative Office of the Courts. The special masters will help the panel review legislative maps. The special masters can also recommend their own maps for the court’s adoption.
Special masters and those working with them are forbidden from communicating with either the plaintiffs or defendants in the case. The legislative defendants say no contact occurred with experts hired to defend the 2021 maps. Information in the filing appears to show that Wang looked to cherry-pick certain information and cook the books for the plaintiffs, who are ideological allies of the Democratic Party.
In the court filing, the legislative defendants demand Wang and Jarvis be fired from their role as assistants. Defendants also want the court to require any work product completed by the two to be destroyed. Defendants want the court to prevent the special masters from considering any material and work product produced by Wang and Jarvis. Republicans want detailed information on other communications they have had with third parties.
Wang was recently accused of the same kind of cheating in another state. He is not a nonpartisan actor. He and his Princeton Gerrymandering Project have consistently demonstrated a pro-Democratic Party bias. He sought to file an amicus brief in support of Common Cause v Lewis in 2019. Left-of-center activist group Common Cause is a party to the current lawsuit.
The methodology used in Wang’s Princeton Gerrymandering Project Redistricting Report Card had a built-in bias that favored Democrats in North Carolina. The analysis rejected maps drawn with politically neutral criteria in favor of his “aspirational view of fairness.” In other words, Wang put his thumb on the scales so that maps favoring Democrats were given better grades. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project created the Redistricting Report Card jointly with RepresentUs, an organization that ran ads encouraging the N.C. Supreme Court to overturn maps enacted by the legislature.
Even worse, reporters in New Jersey discovered that Princeton Gerrymandering Project staffers worked to help Democrats prevail in getting pro-Democratic Party districts from that state’s redistricting commission. When confronted with this revelation, Wang referred requests from reporters for information to the Princeton University media relations office.
The Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which has been a driving force in rating redistricting plans for “partisan fairness,” has erupted in scandal in the last few weeks when it became public that the university-affiliated organization was secretly plotting with Democrat lawmakers and hiding its mathematical formulas from public scrutiny or peer review. The revelations led to accusations that the efforts can be manipulated secretly and easily to benefit Democrats and their allies.
Republicans know it would be a disaster to let Wang and Jarvis similarly infiltrate North Carolina’s redistricting process. That is why they urgently moved to block the use of their biased analysis before the redistricting well water is further poisoned.
It is increasingly clear that these formulas from Wang and his organization are designed to fix the Democrats’ political efficiency problem. They are not designed to create compact districts, communities of interest, or clean-looking districts that make sense. They are designed to compensate the inefficient Democrat coalition that is highly concentrated in major urban areas and punish the Republican political coalition that is broader and spread out geographically and has more effective distribution of voters in any district-based electoral system.
All of these measures benefit Democrats and are designed to result in some type of modified proportional representation. Yet all these measures are guaranteed in North Carolina to result in more gerrymandering and more funny-looking districts.
There’s no word on when the court might address Republican defendants’ complaint. None of the plaintiffs in the case or the State Board of Elections opposed the disqualification motion.