Court Orders New Congressional Legislative Maps Drawn in North Carolina for 2022 Election | News

North Carolina’s redistricting saga took another twist on Friday when the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down new legislative and congressional maps drawn by the state’s Republican-led legislature.

The ruling was made along party lines, with the court’s four Democratic justices voting for new maps and the three Republican justices dissenting with the decision.

The ruling states, “Based on the factual findings of the trial court, we conclude that the maps of Congress and legislation… are unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt under the free elections clause, the equal protection clause, the freedom of speech clause and the freedom of assembly clause of the Constitution of Carolina North.

The new maps would have virtually guaranteed veto-proof Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate, and would likely have given the GOP 10 of the state’s 14 congressional seats.

Democrats were particularly unhappy with the split of heavily Democratic Guilford and Mecklenburg counties, which were carved out and attached to heavily conservative rural areas. Five of these six new districts were considered Republican-leaning.

The High Court order, signed by Senior Associate Justice Robin Hudson, said: “Achieving a partisan advantage disproportionate to the level of statewide voter support for a political party is neither a compelling nor legitimate government interest.”

North Carolina’s voting pool is made up of about one-third Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

Under the order, the legislature has until Feb. 18 to create new maps and send them to a Superior Court panel that initially upheld the maps. This panel has a 2-1 Republican majority. If that court does not accept the new cards, the judges can choose from the cards submitted by the plaintiffs in the case. Either party to the case can appeal the decision before 5 p.m. on February 23, the day before the scheduled resumption of applications.

The high court said on Tuesday it would select a special master to oversee its directions to Wake County Superior Court.

“We have been awash in uncertainty in North Carolina politics for some time; this decision brings us one step, albeit one step closer, to certainty when it comes to our districts and ultimately who is running for what office,” said Chris Cooper, Professor Emeritus Robert Lee Madison and Director of the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University.

“We know that many current districts will change, but we don’t know how the new districts will affect who decides to run for office. And we don’t know what that will do to Madison Cawthorn’s decision to run out of district. If NC-13, where he is announced to run, changes critically, it is certainly possible that he will revert to NC-14 (the new district that will replace the current 11th). He tipped his hat to that very possibility in a recent court filing where he wrote that he would run in any proper district (not to mention NC-13).

Cooper says whatever changes come are likely to have little impact on the political balance of the 50th NC Senate or 119th NC House districts, which include Jackson County.

Friday’s decision is just the latest to impact North Carolina’s 2022 election. In December, the Supreme Court suspended nominations for all positions and moved primary election day from March 8 to May 17 due to challenges to the new maps. State lawmakers passed a bill in January that moved the primary to June 7, but that bill was opposed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

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