Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Lawmakers request help from SCOTUS after 'disruptive' partisan gerrymandering ruling

Lawmakers request help from SCOTUS after 'disruptive' partisan gerrymandering ruling

Allison Riggs, lead trial attorney for the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, which is challenging the map along with Common Case in two separate cases that were consolidated, called the officials' request inappropriate.

"Prohibiting the State from using the duly enacted districting map that governed its last election cycle on the eve of the commencement of the 2018 election cycle is not just practically disruptive, but represents a grave and irreparable sovereign injury", they wrote.

In the majority opinion, Judge James Wynn, who sits on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, said the state's General Assembly "enacted the plan with the intent of discriminating against voters who favored non-Republican candidates" and ordered a new map be drawn by 5 p.m. on January 24.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a definitive ruling on gerrymandering this June during the Gill v. Witford case-where Democratic citizens from Wisconsin are suing Republican legislators over redistricting efforts.

The U.S. Supreme Court should step in to halt a lower court's partisan gerrymandering ruling in North Carolina because of an "eleventh-hour disruption", according to an emergency document filed Friday.

Wynn, W. Earl Britt and William L. Osteen Jr. are the three federal judges who on Tuesday rendered North Carolina's congressional district maps unconstitutional in a profoundly important ruling.

Additionally, Strach contended, blocking the effects of the order by the three judges would be in keeping what the high court had done in a Wisconsin case that tests the breadth to which lawmakers can redistrict for partisan gain. Candidate filing opens February 12 and runs through the end of the month.

State Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse said the districts "are fair and were drawn following all known rules, and existing case law". The judges said the invidious partisanship of the Republican-drawn maps ran contrary to the voters' constitutional right to elect their representatives.

But the process of court approval for any new maps is not scheduled to be finished until after the filing period is scheduled to start.

Several times over the past three decades, primary elections were delayed either in whole or in part for district maps that had to be redrawn.

The plaintiffs' lawyers said the Elections Clause in the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted to mean states can't give either party an advantage.

At least one time, elections were held for maps ultimately deemed unconstitutional.

Republicans initially approved district maps in 2011, but another three-judge panel struck down two districts five years later, identifying them as illegal racial gerrymanders.

"There are so many different moving pieces here", Cohen said.

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