North Carolina General Assembly must redraw congressional districts by Jan. 24, court rules

by WorldTribune Staff, January 10, 2018

A panel of federal judges on Jan. 9 ruled that North Carolina’s General Assembly must quickly redraw congressional district maps.

Republican state Sens. Dan Soucek, left, and Brent Jackson review historical maps during the Senate Redistricting Committee for the 2016 Extra Session in the Legislative Office Building at the NC General Assembly. / The News & Observer via AP

In ruling the current map drawn by Republicans is illegally gerrymandered, the judges gave lawmakers until Jan. 24 to redraw the districts.

North Carolina has 13 congressional districts. Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives is currently 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

A majority of the judges also agreed on Jan. 9 they would hire a redistricting expert to draw replacement boundaries if the state legislature won’t.

Candidate filing for the November congressional elections begins Feb. 12, with primaries set for early May.

“We find that the General Assembly drew and enacted the 2016 plan with intent to subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican control of North Carolina’s congressional delegation,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jim Wynn wrote in the majority opinion. Wynn added that the evidence shows the “plan achieved the General Assembly’s discriminatory partisan objective.”

NC Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Ralph Hise of Mitchell County said lawmakers plan to appeal. There’s a good chance Republicans will try to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the ruling’s enforcement until the justices rule in a similar case from Wisconsin that they heard in the fall. That case involves legislative districts.

The districts “are fair and were drawn following all known rules, and existing case law,” state Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said in a news release.

Woodhouse focused his critique on Wynn, a former North Carolina state judge nominated to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Barack Obama. Wynn, according to Woodhouse is “waging a personal, partisan war on North Carolina Republican voters.”

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