In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Cooper called for a special session of the legislature to redraw state House and Senate voting maps recently deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The session, which will be held along with the ongoing regular session, will kick off tomorrow at two p.m. and last for two weeks.
Cooper’s announcement comes two days after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision that twenty-eight state legislative districts in North Carolina are illegally racially gerrymandered. The high court, however, vacated the district court’s order to redraw the maps and hold special elections in 2017.
“Legal battles over the state legislative map have been ongoing for years,” Cooper’s office stated in a press release. “After the forceful, unanimous Supreme Court decision Monday, it is clear that new districts are needed to fix the racially gerrymandered old map. The new map will still require approval by the three judge panel. Governor Cooper believes there is no reason to delay the new map because North Carolinians deserve to know what the district lines will be in the next election and who will be eligible to run.”
Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups praised Cooper’s decision.
In a statement, Progress NC Action executive director Gerrick Brenner said the “illegitimately elected General Assembly led by Phil Berger and Tim Moore has held power for the better part of a decade thanks to unconstitutional electoral maps that intentionally dilute the voices of minority voters. … Letting an illegitimate General Assembly continue passing unconstitutional laws for even one more day is too long. These maps should be redrawn immediately, and the state should hold special elections as soon as possible.”
We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.