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North Carolina Supreme Court Puts Brakes on Primaries Over ‘Gerrymandering’ Lawsuits

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The North Carolina Supreme Court has issued a ruling delaying political primaries in the spring over two lawsuits challenging the so-called “gerrymandering” of congressional districts by the GOP legislative majority in response to the 2020 Census.

The state’s highest court issued a preliminary injunction last week for the March primaries while also suspending candidate filing pending the outcome of the lawsuits.

Originally slated to take place on March 8, now the North Carolina primaries will be held on May 17.

The court explained that justices’ ruling was the result of “of the great public interest in the subject matter of these cases, the importance of the issues to the constitutional jurisprudence of this State, and the need for urgency in reaching a final resolution on the merits at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The Epoch Times adds:

Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation—an independent research institute in North Carolina that examines issues of freedom, personal responsibility, and limited constitutional government—told The Epoch Times that an injunction isn’t unusual to North Carolina, with political district maps having been partially overturned several times over the years because of lawsuits.

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“We had an injunction from a lower court in 2019 while a case was happening with the maps that were eventually partially overturned,” Jackson said.

“During that time, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on partisan redistricting in North Carolina ruling that federal judges shouldn’t be involved in the state redistricting process, leaving the debate to take place in state courts, where it was ruled that the 2017 maps ‘do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based on sophisticated partisan sorting,'” The Epoch Times noted.

“In the first current lawsuit, the plaintiffs are Rebecca Harper and others, versus defendants listed as Republican state Rep. Destin Hall, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, and other members of the Republican-led legislative body, as well as the North Carolina State Board of Elections,” the outlet’s report continued, adding: “In the second lawsuit, the plaintiffs are the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV) and others versus the same defendants as above.”

Both of the lawsuits allege that the redistricting maps, which were created in November, have been gerrymandered to the advantage of the GOP.

Earlier, Hall described redistricting as “the most transparent process in the history of this state.”

“We voluntarily chose to be out in public and not use election data, even though by law we didn’t have to do that,” Hall said.

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Congressional Republicans are also wading into the fray, including Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina. He said last week that the state Supreme Court cannot simply delay primary elections without a stated reason, and has “demanded a disclosure of the judges’ votes,” which were anonymously submitted, he said.

“This state Supreme Court order is one of the most astonishing I’ve ever seen in my entire legal career,” Bishop said. “And they did it right in the middle of the filing period.”

Democratic state Sen. Jay Chaudhuri noted on Twitter that the Supreme Court’s decision “restores faith that we all have fair and objective district maps.”

And Gov. Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, said the order “restores faith in the rule of law and it is necessary for the Court to rule on the constitutionality of these unfair districts before the next election.”

The state Supreme Court has a 4-3 Democratic advantage.

The high court’s order said that the lawsuits must be heard by the trial court and a decision rendered by Jan. 11.

Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said he’s “deeply disappointed in the state Supreme Court’s decision to halt and further delay our election process that is already underway.”

“To throw this process into chaos in the middle of filing leaves North Carolinians with uncertainty ahead of this election. Despite this delay, we are confident that we will prevail at trial and our maps will stand,” he said.

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