High Court puts hold on special elections in N.C.

High Court puts hold on special elections in N.C.
January 12
07:15 2017



As Republican lawmakers had hoped, the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered a hold on the redrawing of legislative maps, and special elections this year, until it reviews an appeal from the GOP of the original federal court order.

A three-judge federal panel ruled several months ago that 28 of 170 voting districts drawn as part of the 2011 legislative redistricting map were racially gerrymandered, and determined they were unconstitutional. Shortly after the November 2016 general election, the judicial panel ordered the North Carolina legislature to redraw the maps by this March, and then hold special primaries this August or early September, followed by a special legislative general election in November.

Democrats were pleased with the ruling, but Republican lawmakers balked, asking the federal appellate court to keep the current voting districts in place since they were used for the recent general election. That request was turned down, but before he left office, former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory asked the US Supreme Court to stay the appellate order, and it did Tuesday afternoon.

“The application for stay of the order of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina entered on November 29, 2016, presented to The Chief Justice [John Roberts]  and by him referred to the Court is granted,” the High Court decision read, “… ending the timely filing of a statement as to jurisdiction. Should such statement be timely filed, this order shall remain in effect pending this Court’s action on the appeal. If the judgment should be affirmed, or the appeal dismissed, this stay shall expire automatically. In the event jurisdiction is noted or postponed, this order will remain in effect pending the sending down of the judgment of this Court.”

In effect, the U.S. Supreme Court has to decide whether to actually hear arguments in the case for the hold to remain. The eight-member High Court is scheduled to convene in conference next Thursday on Jan. 19 to decide which cases it will hear going forward. If it decides not to hear the redistricting and special elections case, the hold placed on it Tuesday automatically expires, and the judicial order is maintained for state lawmakers to follow.

While state Republican legislative leaders like Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) applauded the Supreme Court hold, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented plaintiffs in the case, made clear this was perfunctory.

“Today’s action just puts everything on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court considers the appeal of whether the district court was correct to order special elections in 2017,” Anita Earls, SCSJ executive director wrote. “On behalf of our clients, we continue to trust that the district court’s ruling will be upheld and new districts ultimately will be drawn that are not based on race.”

“We are grateful the U.S. Supreme Court has quashed judicial activism and rejected an attempt to nullify the votes of North Carolinians in the 2016 legislative elections,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Rockingham), and Senate President Pro Temp Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), said in a joint statement.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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