RALEIGH – When the federal judicial panel issued an opinion earlier this week that Republican-drawn congressional maps were unconstitutional because they were ‘partisan gerrymanders,’ they also issued a deadline for new maps to be submitted.
That deadline was January 24 – an absurdly short window of less than two weeks to redraw the entire State’s congressional districts.
While Republicans plan on appealing the U.S. Court of Appeals opinion to the U.S. Supreme Court, they also recognize that primary filing deadlines are just around the corner in February, and new maps or uncertain maps could wreak havoc on the electoral process.
Because of this, they are completely justified in asking for a delay of any deadline for new maps, that is, if the ruling stands. Republican leadership’s attorneys filed a motion Thursday to do just that.
In the motion, a prerequisite before a stay request can be filed at the U.S. Supreme Court, GOP attorneys wrote the ruling should wait on its order because the justices are likely to step in anyway. The three-judge panel’s decision is likely to be altered by the Supreme Court once it rules in similar partisan gerrymandering cases before it from Wisconsin and possibly Maryland, lawyer Phil Strach wrote.
The GOP lawyers also argue in the motion that there is clearly not enough time for the judges to review a new map before candidate filing begins Feb. 12.
Just like when a judicial panel appointed a California professor to redraw state legislative districts, these judges also plan to appoint an “expert” to draw another set of maps in case the legislature doesn’t act or approves another defective map.
“The introduction of multiple congressional plans in addition to the 2016 plan will create mass confusion for voters and candidates right before the opening of the critical filing period,” Strach wrote.
That is putting it lightly. The increasing power of the judiciary over the other branches of government, as it relates to legislative maps and many other issues, is dangerous and completely antithetical to how the U.S. Constitution delegated certain powers.
The legislature has the authority, constitutionally, to tell the judiciary here to take a hike, but a steadily shifting status quo has made everyone terrified of a court opinion.
The legislature, state and federal, has been the metaphorical frog in the pot of water, and the judiciary has bene turning up the heat slowly. Now the water is starting to boil.