Judges refuse to delay court-ordered 2017 legislative elections

Posted January 4

State lawmakers look over maps of new legislative voting districts during a Nov. 7, 2011, joint House and Senate committee meeting.

— Three federal judges on Wednesday denied a request by state lawmakers to postpone their earlier order requiring new state House and state Senate districts be drawn and elections be held this year.

The judges ruled last August that lawmakers had relied too heavily on race when they drew 28 legislative districts in 2011, but they said there wasn't enough time to rectify the situation before the November elections. So, they later ordered lawmakers to redraw the districts by March 15 and hold primaries in the summer and a special general election in the fall.

Lawmakers have appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but they also filed a motion with the three-judge panel to stay their decision, arguing that voters chose their legislators to serve for the next two years and that the state shouldn't have to invest resources in a special election.

The judges said, however, that it would be more harmful to voters' rights not to fix the unconstitutional districts as soon as possible. The March deadline gives lawmakers plenty of time to redraw the voting districts, they said.

"Defendants nonetheless argue that this Court abused its discretion in ordering a special election because previous cases in which courts ordered special elections involved far fewer districts. This amounts to little more than a claim that Defendants’ racial gerrymandering is 'too big to remedy,'" the judges wrote in their order.

North Carolina has 120 state House districts and 50 state Senate districts. Although only about one-sixth were found to be drawn unconstitutionally, the federal court order will likely lead to both maps being entirely redrawn because every change to one district affects adjoining districts.

"It’s time for the legislature to recognize that the people of our state deserve to have fair representation and the opportunity to vote in districts that were not racially gerrymandered," Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represents the voters who challenged the districts, said in a statement.


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  • Michael Bawden Jan 6, 2017
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    Please Glenda,
    Go downtown with your map. They obviously dont know what they are doing. I was in 2nd district when Ethridge was representing that district. Then I was moved to 4th district when Republicans took over. My pricinct votes 70% democrat. So my precinct and Southeast Raleigh precincts were used to offset the lean towards conservative in Johnston and Harnett. NOW, Republicans grouped liberal precincts together so now I am in 4th district. It is liberal vs conservative. It is about illegal vs legal immigrants, balanced budget, common core vs non common core, social engineering in public schools(busing) vs neighborhood schools, minimum wage, jobs, taxes. Conservative values vs Democrat values. And it looks like the justices are becoming THE branch that has the power. Especially at the federal level. So it will be interesting if the new fedaral judges will be so "godly" to the liberals.

  • Clarence Drumgoole Jan 5, 2017
    user avatar

    Thank God for Godly Judges!

  • Glenda Hightower Jan 5, 2017
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    Mr. Bawden, "liberal speak"? You have no idea what ideology I espouse. If my rational post is what you would consider liberal, well, then maybe liberals are more rational than conservatives. However, I really don't know whether the above statement is true or not. There was no whine associated with my post, merely stating I believe the judge gave a fair and "rational" ruling. If gerrymandering is taken away from both parties, that's a good thing. And why post the snide remarks? If we're going that route, then perhaps advising you that your "seen" should be "scene" perhaps shows some lack of education on your part. Yes?

  • Rod Runner Jan 5, 2017
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Because we have a set number of representatives and some counties don't have a very high population. So you would have some people with better representation than others depending on the county they live in.

    The US House and Senate have that problem now since the # of reps and senators has not been increased in many, many years. Some states with low populations have too much power for their size because they still have 2 senators and 1 representative since that is the minimum no matter their population.

    The same thing would happen with rural counties in NC.

  • Catherine Edwards Jan 5, 2017
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    NC is no longer a democracy. To keep us a democracy is why we have courts review laws to see if they are constitutional. The lawmakers keep losing in court because their laws are unconstitutional.

    Wake up people! Voting rights and democratic principles are being eroded in NC. Condemn it!


  • Michael Bawden Jan 5, 2017
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    Chad Stinner should stop re-writing history. Go to Wikipedia and compare maps between 1992 and 1993.
    When Reagan won and carried Jessie Helms in the NC democrats changed voting so a straight ticket from president on down was no longer valid. Separated national from state races. Straight ticket was fine until Republicans benefited.

  • Chad Stinner Jan 5, 2017
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    Michael there is a difference between leaning in a direction and driving hamhock over the line. That's why GOP lost overwhelmingly in court on this issue.

    Republicans haven't taken the high road in ANYTHING in quite some time. HB2, late night sessions, Duke Power...

    People are blind to their own parties wrong doings. Instead of reacting like a rational person would and being "wow, that was out of line. This judgement makes sense to redraw the districts and revote" you're going "Democrats did this before". NO THEY DIDNT. Not even close.

    I'm note liberal, democratic, or republican. I vote for who I think can do the best job. Lately that's been democrats but I did vote for a republican for Agricultural Commissioner because he does a REALLY good job.

    Stop the sports team style politics and be realistic.

  • Donovan Verrill Jan 5, 2017
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    I don't understand why counties aren't the districts. Simple. Set number of reps based on county population.

  • Michael Bawden Jan 5, 2017
    user avatar

    Typical liberal speak. Silent for a hundred years, but when Republicans win "both" sides did it. Republicans should take the "high road" and not do what the democrats did for 100 years.
    On the national seen, democrats voted in the "nuclear option". Now that they are no longer in power, the Republicans should take the high road and restore the 60 vote filibuster rule. Why is it the Republicans should always take the high road? Why not let the Republicans rule like the democrats did for years?
    Seemed to work fine for the press and democrats for years.
    Where is the rhetoric that the entire country should get behind the new president like 2008? I guess liberals do not know what the "high road" means.
    Translation, "high road", "both sides do it", is for Republicans to make districts and rules to make sure liberals get back in power.
    Name calling and shaming conservatives is no longer working. And conservatives are winning, libs are whining.

  • Michael Bawden Jan 5, 2017
    user avatar

    View quoted thread