Supreme Court blocks redraw of NC congressional map
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the decision of a lower court ordering North Carolina lawmakers to redraw the state's congressional districts by next week.Posted — Updated
"Respondents do not and cannot identify any legitimate justification for forcing the General Assembly to rush to draw a new congressional map in two weeks, when this Court is presently considering whether the partisan gerrymandering claims that gave rise to the district court’s extraordinary demand are even justiciable," lawyers for the lawmakers wrote in a brief filed with the court on Thursday.
The 7-2 ruling by the Supreme Court means the map drawn in 2016 will be used in the May primaries and this fall's elections.
"We are grateful that a bipartisan U.S. Supreme Court has overwhelmingly halted the lower court’s 11th-hour attempt to intervene in election outcomes, restored certainty to voters and ensured that, in the coming days, candidates for office can file in the least gerrymandered and most compact Congressional districts in modern state history," Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, who lead the General Assembly's redistricting process, said in a joint statement.
"Voters and even most elected officials agree that partisan gerrymandering is violating the constitutional rights of Americans all over the country," Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represents the League of Women Voters, said in a statement Thursday evening. "While we are disappointed that the stay was granted, North Carolinians deserve to participate in fair elections in 2018. We are optimistic that the U.S. Supreme Court will, before the end of this term in June, recognize the harm to our democracy created by partisan gerrymandering and find such egregious efforts to diminish voters’ power unconstitutional."
The Supreme Court heard arguments on a similar lawsuit out of Wisconsin in October but has not yet ruled on that case's central questions. Partisan gerrymanders have been accepted in the past, but these cases could create new precedents, changing the way election maps are drawn nationwide.
"This fight is far from over," Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause, said in a statement. "We are confident that the court will ultimately agree that the legislature’s extreme partisan gerrymander violates the constitutional rights of North Carolina citizens."
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