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Meet the Cary woman behind the Supreme Court case Moore v. Harper

CARY, N.C. — Sitting in her real estate office in Cary, Becky Harper doesn’t look like a politico. She’s never held elected office and doesn’t want to – but she is passionate about fair voting districts.

Harper volunteered to be one of the plaintiffs in two redistricting cases in state court. She never expected one to become a national issue – but that’s what happened when the U.S. Supreme Court accepted an appeal from Republican state lawmakers.

“It’s been very exciting. It certainly was not something that I ever planned for,” she says.

She gets a kick out of the media attention on this case.

“There’s a lovely piece in Esquire magazine that was published yesterday, and he called me a fireball realtor,” she says, laughing. “It’s an honor and I suppose it’ll be the first line in my obituary, but you know, it’s, it’s such an important issue.”

Harper has lived and worked in North Carolina since 1993. In 2007, she became a member of Common Cause because of her concerns about gerrymandering. At that time, it was the Democrats who were doing it. Now, it’s the Republicans. Either way, she says, it’s bad for voters.

“Gerrymandering is a fix. It’s a fix in the game. If we were watching a football game, and the points for one side counted more than the points for another side, it would be very obvious that the game was rigged,” she says. “We are fighting for a fair process. We are not fighting for one side or the other.”

She volunteered to be one of the plaintiffs on a case challenging maps drawn by Republican state lawmakers, which was expected to end at the state Supreme Court in Raleigh – but then lawmakers asked the US Supreme Court to hear it, and the high court agreed.

This is the first time she’d ever been to the Supreme Court. She only found out last week that she’d have a seat.

“I was able to sit inside the court and see the case argued, and that was really exciting,” she says.

But she did have to leave something behind.

“I have a button that I’ve worn for years that says ‘End Gerrymandering Now,’ and they took that away from me at the security desk, so I was very sorry to lose it,” she says.

Republican lawmakers argued the US Constitution gives them the power to draw gerrymandered districts and the state court doesn’t have the authority to stop it. Most legal scholars and experts took Harper’s side against that idea, including some prominent Republican election law experts like Michael Luttig and Benjamin Ginsberg.

Harper wasn’t surprised by the bipartisan support. She says gerrymandering shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

“I think we should be able to adopt rules that are fair to both sides. I want an honest competition between the red team and the blue team, the Democrats and the Republicans. Let’s let people put their ideas out there and let the people choose,” she says.

She’s proud to have her name on the case.

“Fundamentally what I care about is protecting our democracy. And this case is going to be very critical for that nationwide,” she says.