The laws of North Carolina and our state constitution itself are indisputably subservient to the Constitution of the United States. The language is explicit.
Sec. 5. Allegiance to the United States.
Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.
Sec. 12. Oath of members.
Each member of the General Assembly, before taking his seat, shall take an oath or affirmation that he will support the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Carolina, and will faithfully discharge his duty as a member of the Senate or House of Representatives.
All of which means this: when our own founding documents lack clarity or guidance, we should turn to the US Constitution, which states in its preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Given our state's sordid history of bigotry and partisan shenanigans, it's not surprising that our Constitution is largely silent on the issue of "justice." Aside from numerous references to "justices" in the context of actual judges, there's only one mention of the word as a concept:
Sec. 18. Court shall be open.
All courts shall be open; every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation shall have remedy by due course of law; and right and justice shall be administered without favor, denial, or delay.
What does it mean that "right and justice shall be administered without favor?" Do policies that give preference to some voters to the detriment of others amount to "injury?" Should those policies be considered right and just? What exactly does "justice" even mean? The Cambridge dictionary has this to say. Justice is "the condition of being morally correct or fair." The dictionary doesn't mention constitutions, laws or partisan politics. It refers only to morality and fairness.
The recent NC appeals court ruling on gerrymandering goes to great lengths to document the fundamental unfairness, indeed, the wrongness, of the GOP's maps. The court decries their unjust nature again and again, but then declares it is not in a position to remedy that unfairness because ... well, just because. The matter will go to the NC Supreme Court, where partisanship, not issues of fairness, bristles with every word uttered.
And yet, who else can we the people turn to in this most terrible of circumstances? Voting itself is being rigged to favor one group of people over another group by the simple act of drawing lines on a map. Who else can remedy the dire situation where an evenly split state ends up with 70+ percent Republican representation in Congress? Do our justices even care about justice?
One can argue that the state and US Constitutions are silent on the issue of gerrymandering, but they are not silent on the issue of justice. It's long past time for the NC Supreme Court to step up and shut down partisan gerrymandering. Ohio did it. So can we.