NC Supreme Court order delays primaries until May
The N.C. Supreme Court has issued an order in a redistricting lawsuit that delays all 2022 primary elections in the state from March 8 to May 17.Posted — Updated
The new voting maps are expected to deliver wins for Republicans in at least 10 of the state's 14 U.S. House districts, and likely supermajorities in the state House and the state Senate, despite an electorate that's politically nearly evenly split.
A three-judge Superior Court panel in Wake County on Friday declined a request to delay the 2022 primaries.
On Monday, a panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed that decision, halting filing for U.S. House and state legislative races just minutes before filing was set to begin. The panel’s decision was then appealed to the full 15-member appeals court, which voted to lift the stay and hold a hearing on the motion.
Challengers appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which issued its order on Wednesday.
Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein had also filed a brief with the state Supreme Court on Monday, asking that the high court take over the lawsuit so that the matter could be settled as quickly as possible. Both men are in favor of a court-ordered redraw of the districts.
In a statement Wednesday, Republicans alleged partisanship on the Supreme Court, which has a 4-3 Democratic majority.
“The court didn’t even articulate a legal or factual basis for suspending elections,” Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, who co-chairs the Senate Elections committee, said in a statement. “The Democrats on the Supreme Court want districts that elect more Democrats, so they're blocking every election in the state until they get their way."
Cooper said in a statement that he supports the court’s decision to review the legality of the election maps.
"Today’s order by the state Supreme Court restores faith in the rule of law, and it is necessary for the court to rule on the constitutionality of these unfair districts before the next election," he said.
At least 1,400 candidates have already filed for federal, state and local races, according to the State Board of Elections.
"To throw this process into chaos in the middle of filing leaves North Carolinians with uncertainty ahead of the election," House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a statement. "Despite this delay, we are confident that we will prevail at trial and our maps will stand."
The Supreme Court's order requires the original three-judge panel to hear the legal challenges and decide them by Jan. 11, to be followed by an expedited appeals process, if needed.
Dates for a new filing period haven't been set.
Candidates whose filings have already been accepted by state or county elections boards “will be deemed to have filed for the same office” in the May primary, subject to any court rulings that would impact that candidate’s eligibility, the state elections board said, quoting the court.
Candidates would be able to withdraw their candidacy during the new filing period. Any candidate who withdraws is free to file for any other office for which he or she is eligible during the reopened filing period, the board said.
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