Judges uphold new congressional map of North Carolina in Republicans’ victory

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Jan. 11 (Reuters) – A North Carolina panel of judges on Tuesday confirmed the state’s new congressional map, rejecting claims by Democratic voters and advocacy groups that redrawn district lines illegally favor Republicans.

The decision, which will be appealed, could have a disproportionate impact on the 2022 midterm elections in November, when the much-divided US Congressional control will be at stake.

The lawsuit, backed by Democratic and civil rights groups, claimed the new map ensures Republicans will win a majority of the state’s 14 congressional constituencies, even in elections in which more voters Democrats vote.

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In a trial last week, plaintiff experts said the card approved by the Republican-controlled legislature in November was an extreme outlier, compared to thousands of computer-generated alternatives.

In a 258-page decision released Tuesday, a three-judge Superior Court panel found evidence showed the map was “the result of an intentional partisan and pro-Republican redistribution.”

But the judges unanimously agreed with Republican lawmakers that inserting themselves into a purely political matter would infringe on their authority. In addition, the state’s constitution does not expressly prohibit lawmakers from taking partisan factors into account, the judges said.

“Despite our disdain for having to deal with issues that could lead to results inconsistent with democratic principles and ridiculing our state, this Court must remember that these cards are the result of a democratic process,” they wrote.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs immediately said they would appeal the ruling, calling it “disappointing” but expressing confidence that the North Carolina Supreme Court would eventually reject the card.

The state’s highest court, which has a 4-3 Democratic majority, previously delayed primary elections from March to May to allow time for the trial to continue.

Federal law requires states to draw new congressional lines every 10 years to account for population changes, after the U.S. census completes its decennial count. In most states, lawmakers control the process, which leads to the practice of gerrymandering, in which a party draws up political maps for its own benefit.

The new card would give Republicans 10 or 11 seats statewide, analysts say, even if the state is seen as an eternal battleground in national elections. Republicans currently control eight of the state’s 13 districts; North Carolina gains a 14th district thanks to a rapidly growing population.

The case is one of many pending lawsuits challenging congressional cards in at least half a dozen states, including Texas, Ohio and Georgia, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. , which follows redistribution disputes.

Republicans only need to overthrow a handful of seats in the Nov. 8 election to regain control of the US House of Representatives, where Democrats have a 221-212 advantage, including vacancies .

In a statement, Republican Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives Tim Moore said the maps were the result of a transparent process.

“The maps for the General Assembly were drawn in the light of day, after months of public comment and reaction,” he said.

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Report by Joseph Ax; edited by Colleen Jenkins, Jonathan Oatis and Richard Pullin

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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