Raleigh, N.C. — Republicans released a redraw of the state's judicial and prosecutorial districts Sunday evening, setting up a committee hearing Monday afternoon on a potential overhaul of the state's third branch of government.
Gov. Roy Cooper, during a budget press conference, said he needed to review the legislation but said it appears an attempt to "rig the courts" in favor of the GOP legislative majority.
"What I've heard simply tells me they're trying to rig the courts because they lost," Cooper said. "This is an attempt to threaten the judiciary and to rig the judiciary in their favor."
House Bill 717 is 21 pages of detailed precinct movements to rework judicial lines in the state. Maps tweeted Sunday night by state Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, the bill sponsor, show a number of changes from the status quo.
Peg Dorer, director of the Conference of District Attorneys, said the new districts would eliminate two district attorneys – one covering Scotland and Hoke counties and another for Anson and Richmond – ceding their area to other districts. It makes changes to seven prosecutorial districts overall, Dorer said.
"They're pairing some things up and moving some things around that is going to cause a lot of hardship," she said. "It's just a mess.
"And, if you want to get political about it, all of the losers are Democrats," Dorer said.
On Twitter, Democracy North Carolina called the bill a "gerrymander" that merges maps "for conservative control." State Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said in a telephone interview that the bill seems to be part of "the same effort to bend the government of North Carolina toward the will of the Republican Party."
Martin said he received a "stat pack" with racial and partisan breakdowns of the changes at about 9:30 a.m. Monday and that he would review the crucial information in analyzing the changes. The timing – a new map released in what may be the last week of this legislative session, by a GOP majority whose congressional and legislative maps have been found unconstitutional by the federal courts – is disturbing, Martin said.
"Utter lack of transparency," he said.
One of the proposed maps:
The current map: