Redistricting opponents want high court to delay NC primary
Posted January 6, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Opponents of the legislative and congressional districts drawn by the Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2011 argued before the North Carolina Supreme Court Monday that the voting maps are unconstitutional.
The group, led by the state NAACP chapter and Democracy North Carolina, want the court to push back the candidate filing period and the May 6 primary so that legal issues surrounding the maps can be settled.
A special three-judge panel upheld the maps in July, saying that they had not showed "a violation of any cognizable equal protection rights of any North Carolina citizens, or groups thereof, will result."
The U.S. Department of Justice also has passed the maps under the federal Voting Rights Act.
Opponents allege that the districts were drawn based on racial considerations. They maintain that the maps unfairly divide too many counties and that they pack black voters in some districts and exclude them from others.
"If there is a history of African-American voters in that region of the state not being able to be elected," said Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, "the crucial question is not does racial polarized voting exist. The crucial question is does it exclude the choices of black voters. Are candidates of choice of black voters usually defeated?"
State Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, who helped draft the new voting maps, said he is confident that the Supreme Court will uphold them.
"The law is very clear. There is nothing wrong with partisan advantage (in drawing districts), but you have to follow all of the other important parts of the law," Rucho said after the court hearing.
The Supreme Court often takes 60 to 90 days to issue its decisions, but it's unclear if the court will rule earlier on the call to delay the candidate filing period, which begins in February.