Judge halts Greensboro redistricting

Posted July 24, 2015 1:14 p.m. EDT

— A federal judge issued an injunction Thursday to stop the Greensboro redistricting law, enacted by state lawmakers, from going into effect this election cycle.

The injunction means candidate filing will begin next Monday under the current five-district system.

Lawmakers three weeks ago passed legislation that changes the make-up of the Greensboro City Council, creates new voting districts and strips the mayor of voting power. It also includes a provision that makes Greensboro the only city in North Carolina that needs state approval to redraw district lines in the future.

The City of Greensboro, along with six residents, filed the lawsuit against the Guilford County Board of Elections on July 13, calling the move by state lawmakers arbitrary, discriminatory and “tainted with bad faith.” Plaintiffs say the legislation strips the City Council and its residents of a voice in how they run the local government, and they claim the redrawn lines overpopulate minority districts and pit all four black council incumbents against each other.

Attorneys for the Board of Elections argued the agency has a very specific and defined role, which is to hold fair and impartial elections. Attorneys agreed they should be a party, in this case, but only as far as an injunction is concerned. They maintain a different defendant should be responsible for defending the law’s constitutionality.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ordered a trial be scheduled for the case before the 2017 municipal election to resolve the issue.