RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Republicans in North Carolina on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a congressional redistricting plan that state judges crafted this week, launching a last-ditch effort to make derail a map that would likely give Democrats another seat on Capitol Hill. in 2023.
GOP legislative leaders argue that the borders — which replaced a map approved by the Legislature earlier this month — violate the U.S. Constitution. Filing of candidates under the card began on Thursday and continues through next week.
Since the Constitution allows state legislators to determine how to hold elections for the United States House, the panel of three state judges overstepped its authority by enacting limits that were not set by the State House and the Senate, wrote an attorney for Republican leaders. The state Supreme Court also authorized the use of the adopted map.
The barrister, David Thompson, has filed an emergency application asking the High Court to set aside the new map while he seeks arguments on the constitutional issue in the full court. If the card is not rescinded, he wrote, his clients “will forever lose the ability to appeal the orders…before the 2022 election is held under a judicially crafted and unconstitutional Congressional card.” “.
Eight of the current 13 U.S. House seats in North Carolina are held by Republicans. The state will receive an additional seat with the 2022 elections thanks to population growth. North Carolina is tightly divided when it comes to statewide elections.
The redistricting map adopted by the trial judges appears to give Democrats a good chance of winning a sixth seat, with Republicans in a strong position to win seven seats. One district — stretching from parts of Raleigh south into three fast-growing counties — is likely a blow.
The state Supreme Court declined to block use of the card Wednesday night, less than 12 hours before North Carolina’s filing of nominations resumes after a 2.5-month hiatus.
The United States Supreme Court may find it difficult to intervene.
Historically, judges have been reluctant to get involved in state elections when an election season is underway. The stay request was sent to Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles emergency calls from North Carolina.
In December, state judges suspended nominations and delayed the March 8 primary until May 17. This was to allow a lawsuit to move forward on litigation filed by voters and advocacy groups against the congressional and legislature redistricting maps that the GOP-controlled legislature approved in November.
Ultimately, in a 4-3 decision in favor of the court’s Democratic majority, the state Supreme Court struck down those cards, calling them illegal partisan gerrymanders. Evidence presented at a trial showed the Congressional map was “the result of an intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting” that would have given the GOP 10 of 14 seats in almost any political environment.
The judging panel then rejected a corrective map of U.S. House seats created by the Legislature, saying it failed to meet standards set by state Supreme Court justices for partisan fairness. Those borders would likely have created four highly competitive districts, with Republicans in good shape to win six of the remaining 10 seats.
The court-ordered map, which would likely only be used for the 2022 election, “achieves the partisan fairness and ‘substantially equal voting power’ required by the Supreme Court,” according to a report by special experts hired by trial judges.
Thompson said his clients also want the U.S. Supreme Court to block state Supreme Court decisions invalidating their original Congressional card.
Allison Riggs, an attorney representing Common Cause in the litigation, said GOP lawmakers are now “outrageously” trying to insert the U.S. Supreme Court into state law less than three years after judges ruled that state courts could use their own laws to curb partisan gerrymandering.
“We are confident that this specious attempt to undermine our justice system will be rejected,” Riggs said in a press release.
The U.S. Supreme Court has asked Common Cause and the other parties to respond to the stay request by Wednesday.
If the map holds, a likely additional Democratic seat will make it a little harder for national Republicans to take control of the US House in the fall.
The state judicial panel and state Supreme Court upheld the replacements for the state House and Senate districts, which are not part of Friday’s appeal.