13:04, October 29 301 0 abajournal.com

2019-10-29 13:04:09
North Carolina congressional map drawn to benefit GOP can’t be used in 2020, state panel rules

North Carolina map

Image from Shutterstock.com.

On Monday, a panel of three state judges in North Carolina blocked the state from using its current congressional map in 2020 elections.

The judges said plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their arguments that the map was an extreme partisan gerrymander that violated state constitutional guarantees for free elections, equal protection, and freedom of speech and assembly.

The New York Times, the Associated Press, NBC News, the News & Observer, the Washington Post and Politico have coverage.

The plaintiffs had alleged that the congressional map, drawn to benefit Republicans, “may be the most extreme and brazen partisan gerrymander in American history.”

The map was drawn to entrench a 10-3 Republican advantage, despite a near-even split of Democratic and Republican voters in the state. One lawmaker said the congressional map was drawn that way only because the legislature was unable to draw a map that would elect 11 Republicans and two Democrats, according to the lawsuit.

The three-judge panel issued a preliminary injunction and urged state lawmakers to quickly draw new congressional districts. Primaries in the state are scheduled for March 3. Filing deadlines are in December.

The court’s ruling follows a similar ruling by the panel in September, which held that state legislative districts drawn to benefit Republicans violated the state constitution. The legislature created new maps, which the court approved Monday in a separate opinion.

The North Carolina courts stepped in after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that federal courts have no power to decide partisan gerrymandering challenges.

The state challenge to the congressional maps was filed by the National Redistricting Foundation, an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.