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Professor Michael Curtis to present ‘Race as a Political Weapon’ regarding racial gerrymandering on Wednesday, Feb. 5

Professor Michael Curtis

Michael Kent Curtis is one of the foremost constitutional historians in the United States.

Professor Michael Curtis will present “Race as a Political Weapon”  regarding racial gerrymandering in North Carolina at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 5, the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1302.

The lecture, which is hosted by the law school’s American Constitution Society, is free and open to the public. Curtis is the Judge Donald L. Smith Professor in Constitutional and Public Law and one of the foremost constitutional historians in the United States.

Those living in the recently vacated 12th Congressional District–a snake of a district running from Charlotte to Greensboro–know how racial gerrymandering effects Congressional representation for ordinary North Carolinians, according to Curtis.

“After the 2010 election, the  Republican majority in the state Legislature enacted a powerfully effective  gerrymander,” he said. “Though Republicans had fewer statewide votes for Congress in the 2012  election, the gerrymander on steroids give them nine of 13 Congressional seats and stronger control of the state Legislature.”

Curtis explained the gerrymander involved two racial quotas: the first racial quota packed more African-Americans into 50 percent or 50 percent-plus black voting age population districts, and the second racial quota sought blacks in the legislature in  proportion to the state’s black voting-age population.

“The racial-quota redistricting disrupted a number multi-racial coalition districts that had been electing the preferred candidate of black voters,” he said. “Devices to disrupt bi or multi-racial coalitions had a prominent and sad role in earlier North Carolina political struggles. History never simply repeats itself and modern anti-coalition tactics are similar in some ways and different in others to those of the past.”

The talk will discuss the 2011 redistricting in its legal and historical context.

“We chose this topic to shed light on legislative actions that we believe have undermined democracy,” stated Seth Bullard, president of the law school’s American Constitution Society. “Both political parties have been guilty of gerrymandering on behalf of their own interests, but we are focusing on Republican gerrymandering because (1) it is the party in power, and (2) we feel that gerrymandering along racial lines is especially insidious because it has the effect of separating people rather than bringing them together. “