Special Master Again? Legislative Leaders Ask SCOTUS to Halt New Maps Order

RALEIGH – With not nearly enough time to be heard fully in the highest court, Republican state lawmakers are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to freeze a lower court’s order to redraw congressional districts and possibly delay the elections to U.S. House and Senate.

In a statement, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore cited the disrupting nature of the order:

“In yesterday’s decision, the three-judge panel forecasted voiding the results of primaries and canceling the November election for Congress. Such an action would irreparably disrupt campaigns from both major parties across the state that have been organizing, raising money and trying to win over voter.”

The case brought by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause NC challenged the constitutionality 2016 drawn districts on charge of partisan gerrymandering, or using election data to create ideal voter makeup for Republicans. Two judges of the three-judge panel, both appointed by liberal presidents, agreed with the plaintiffs.

The issue has never been ruled on by SCOTUS, having remanded two key partisan gerrymandering cases back to lower courts for further consideration.

An appeal is likely, but the process with the highest court is too long with elections looming. Hence, the request to issue a freeze on the order. Legislative leaders have called the task of redrawing districts in time for elections, “simply impossible.”

Included in the 300+ page order from federal judicial panel were threats to take the keys away from the General Assembly altogether and issue another Special Master to draw new maps. It also listed multiple possibilities for going forward”

  • nullify primaries, hold new ones on new maps in November, and general election in early 2019, or
  • Keep current primary winners, yet run in general on new map

The ruling has again stoked cries for a new ‘bipartisan’ districting process, with the Left and the media (often one and the same) snidely suggesting that if the legislature can fix proposed amendment language in less than a week, it can surely complete redrawn maps in time for the elections. Never mind the slight differences between editing one or two paragraphs of amendment question language, and an entire redistricting process saddled with the extra restricting of trying to anticipate what an overly activist court will find fault with.

The lower courts will apparently have more  developments coming by the end of the week, and one should expect an expedient answer from the supreme court on the lawmakers’ request to halt the latest order.

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