A good friend to the Civitas Institute, Duke Law professor, Robinson Everett has passed away at the age of 81. Everette was a frequent guest at the Civitas monthly poll lunches and was keenly interested in the opinions of North Carolina's voters.
In addition to a ground breaking career as a military lawyer and judge, Everett also had an impact on North Carolina's representation in Congress. He focused on the individual versus attempts by law makers to force voters into groups for the purposes of representation. His greatest success in this area came when he challenged the makeup of North Caolina's congressional districts from 1992 to 2001.
The legislature had gerrymandered the congressional districts to the level of absurdity. The 12th district in particular was widely regarded as a joke. The Wall Street Journal called the district "political pornography." The NCGOP sued to overturn the districts and was defeated in court.
The case might well have ended there had not Robinson Everett believed that
the real problem with the revised redistricting plan was not partisan
gerrymandering, but racial gerrymandering. He filed suit in the same month that the Republicans lost their case. Everett acted as chief counsel and
plaintiff in his suit and even enlisted one of his sons, a secretary from his
firm, and a Duke law school colleague to act as co-plaintiffs.
For the next nine years, Everett engaged in continuous litigation. Even though he did not win every decision, Everett did manage to argue four cases before the US Supreme Court; to force the NC legislature to redistrict; and to play a role in the development of a new legal standard, whereby redistricting plans predominately based on race are held to be unconstitutional unless they are narrowly tailored to meet a compelling interest.