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North Carolina Supreme Court OKs Speeding Up Redistricting Arguments

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


The North Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to speed up arguments on challenges to redistricting the state’s legislative seats and congressional districts.

In a 4-3 ruling with registered Democrats in the majority, the state’s justices granted a request by Common Cause to accelerate the redistricting proceedings given November’s midterm elections are months away.

The liberal group is fighting maps approved by the state House and Senate.

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“The order said specifically that the court didn’t address a recent request by Republican legislators to end its appeal of the congressional district boundaries, which a state trial court drew and adopted for use this year only,” ChapelBoro reported.

But the order said expediting all redistricting appeals was based on “the great public interest in the subject matter of this case, the importance of the issues to the constitutional jurisprudence of this state, and the need to reach a final resolution on the merits at the earliest possible opportunity.”

“It’s too late for any decision after those oral arguments to alter the district lines for this year’s elections, which are already happening under the challenged maps. Any ruling could clarify further how partisan bias is avoided in mapmaking and force the legislature to redraw new General Assembly maps that would be used for the remainder of this decade. A new congressional map for the 2024 elections already will be needed. Associate Justice Tamara Barringer, opposing Thursday’s order for the court’s three Republican justices, wrote that it made no sense to speed up the process. Any required map redraws for the 2024 elections wouldn’t need to be in place until candidate filing begins in December 2023, she said,” the outlet reported.

“Common Cause fails to explain how an expedited decision from this court will make any meaningful difference on the legislature’s ability to comply with a deadline that is more than 16 months away,” Barringer wrote.

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“With Hudson retiring from the court at the end of the year, and Democratic Associate Justice Sam Ervin IV up for reelection, it’s possible a GOP majority would have heard the case if arguments had waited until early 2023. In contrast to the legislature’s original congressional map, which likely would have resulted in Republicans winning 10 of the 14 seats, the interim plan would give Democrats a reasonable opportunity to win seven of the seats,” ChapelBoro reported.

The battle over newly-redrawn congressional maps has heated up months before November’s midterms and could play a huge role in the 2024 elections.

Last month, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to reject a GOP-drawn map of U.S. House districts as gerrymandered, sending it back to meet constitutional parameters approved by Ohio voters.

However, new maps will not be put in place until 2024.

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“The ruling adds to a string of court defeats for Ohio’s ruling Republicans amid the once-per-decade redistricting process that states undertake to reflect population changes from the U.S. Census. Despite those failures in court, however, Ohio’s 2022 congressional primaries went forward on May 3 under an earlier invalidated U.S. House map, and its legislative primaries under an unconstitutional Statehouse map take place Aug. 2,” Politico reported.

“The map created 10 safe Republican seats and five Democratic seats. However, the high court’s majority said the latest map packed Democrats into three congressional districts that would heavily favor a Democratic candidate, while unfairly splitting counties and cities around heavily-Democratic Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus,” Politico added.

As noted by Dave Wasserman, the U.S. House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, this may not be bad news for Republicans in the short or long term.

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Prior to that, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Louisiana state legislature by allowing the state’s Republican-drawn congressional map to remain in place.

A federal judge had previously ruled the map violated the Voting Rights Act and ordered lawmakers to redraw the state’s six congressional districts to include two in which Black voters were in the majority.

Prior to that, the Florida Supreme Court delivered a gigantic win to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the Sunshine State by “rejecting a request for a hearing over the state’s new congressional map that eliminates a majority Black district.”

Conservative commentator Greg Price noted on Twitter how big of a deal this is for Republicans going into crucial midterms in November.

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“The Florida Supreme Court is leaving DeSantis’ congressional maps in place that create four new GOP-leaning districts. They will be the maps used this November,” Price wrote.

In early June, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Republicans’ new redistricting law is legal and will make it more difficult for the only Kansas congressional delegate to win re-election.

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