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NC Supreme Court Throws Out Redistricting Maps

NC Supreme Court Throws Out Redistricting Maps

The North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s new maps for Congressional and General Assembly seats Friday, declaring that state courts had the authority to throw out lines engineered to secure a long-term Republican advantage in an otherwise closely divided state.

With the justices who are registered Democrats making up the majority the state’s highest court voted by a 4-3 decision to direct the GOP-controlled legislature to redraw the plans by February 18th. The body must also provide an explanation of how they calculated the partisan fairness of the new boundaries. Any replacement maps would still be used for the May 17 primaries.

 

 

Friday’s ruling is a major victory for state and national Democrats and their allies who had invested greatly in overturning the maps. It could also make it harder for Republicans to retake control of the U.S. House this fall. A group associated with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee — led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — supported a bloc of voters who sued.

 

The court’s decision reversed a ruling last month from a panel of three trial judges that let the maps stand, and declared partisan gerrymandering found in the redistricting approved by the legislature in November violated several provisions in the North Carolina Constitution. They include the right to free elections, freedom of speech, and equal protections of citizens. Friday’s majority order also directed lawmakers to use election and population figures to determine whether racially polarized voting is sufficient in areas to require the drawing of districts that protect Black voting strength.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper can’t use his veto stamp to block redistricting plans, but he filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to throw out the maps.

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