On Wednesday, the Superior Court issued an injunction temporarily blocking candidates for newly created congressional districts from filing for office in early December, the latest episode in a gerrymandering saga that will apparently only end with the heat death of the universe.
The General Assembly redrew the congressional districts after the Superior Court blocked the state from using the ones it drew in 2016 as extreme partisan gerrymanders; the court had previously forced the legislature to redraw the gerrymandered legislative districts, too. The congressional districts, which gave Republicans a 10–3 advantage despite Democrats winning half the statewide vote in 2018, were drawn after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the original boundaries as racial gerrymanders.
Wednesday’s ruling does not necessarily mean that the Superior Court will ultimately strike down the new congressional districts, which seem likely to give the GOP an 8–5 advantage. The court did accept the legislature’s redo of the legislative maps, after all. Instead, the ruling gave the court some breathing room “to fully consider the significant issues presented by the parties.”
Soon after the General Assembly approved the new congressional maps on November 15, it asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the 2016 districts. The plaintiffs in the case—fourteen voters led by Common Cause member Becky Harper—asked the court for an expedited review of the new districts.
With the primary set for March, candidate filing in congressional races was scheduled to begin in less than two weeks. In essence, the Superior Court called a timeout and scheduled a hearing for 9:00 a.m. on December 2.
If the three-judge panel quickly sides with the legislature, candidate filing will soon be back on and the primaries should go off without a hitch.
If the court decides to review the districts—and especially if it decides the districts are still illegal and has a special master redraw them yet again—then who knows.
Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.