redistricting

The Supreme Court is choosing not to take on a new case on partisan redistricting for now. Instead, the justices are sending a dispute over North Carolina's heavily Republican congressional districting map back to a lower court for more work.

The Supreme Court has already heard a major case about political line-drawing that has the potential to reshape American politics. Now, before even deciding that one, the court is taking up another similar case.

North Carolina has seen several efforts to take partisanship out of redistricting.  The latest appeal comes from two Mecklenburg County residents – District 92 Democratic State Representative Chaz Beasley and Republican Charles Jeter who used to represent that same district.

Both sides are declaring victory while many others are left scratching their heads after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in Tuesday on two North Carolina gerrymandering cases.

It appears that judicial redistricting is again stalled in the North Carolina General Assembly. That comes after a recent show of confidence from leading state Republicans that the issue might pick up momentum.

BEN GRAUMANN, EQUALITY NC

The Joint Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting met again Monday to discuss changes to the courts.  Possible changes include redistricting for judges and a "merit-selection" process that could bypass voters altogether.  Democrats argue Republicans are trying to rig the courts in their favor after seeing a number of decisions go against them.  Republicans say the changes are long overdue.  

BPR recorded the meeting in full.  

Federal judges have approved North Carolina legislative districts redrawn by an expert they hired to address their concerns about continued racial bias with some boundaries and new constitutional violations.

The News & Observer of Raleigh

Federal judges on Friday approved changes a court-appointed expert made to two dozen North Carolina legislative districts, agreeing that maps approved by Republican lawmakers last summer didn’t fully remove previous illegal racial bias.

Corey Lowenstein/The News & Observer, via Associated Press

 The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday delayed a lower-court order that would have forced North Carolina Republican lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional districts by next week because of excessive partisan bias in current lines.

When it comes to drawing districts for congressional elections, House Speaker Tim Moore says North Carolina Republicans nailed it.

“Frankly, it's a model other states could follow,” says Moore. 

A panel of federal judges has denied a request from Republican lawmakers to delay redrawing all of North Carolina's 13 congressional districts.

A federal court's decision to strike down North Carolina's map of congressional districts has cast uncertainty over this year’s elections.

color:#0A0A0A">Federal judges ruled Tuesday that the boundaries drawn by Republican legislators constitute an illegal partisan gerrymander.  The judges gave lawmakers about two weeks to come up with a new map.


 

The federal judges relied heavily on the findings of Duke University mathematics and statistics professor, Dr. Jonathan Mattingly.  He used computer programming and an algorithm to create thousands of simulated congressional districting plans for North Carolina. 

The headline of Tuesday's federal ruling is an eye-catching one: All 13 North Carolina congressional districts are illegal partisan gerrymanders. The deadline was equally eye-catching. The judges gave lawmakers just two weeks to redraw the whole map.

So did all this catch the eyes of lawmakers in Raleigh?

Not visibly. But that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening behind the scene.  

In what may be a landmark decision, a federal panel of judges has ruled all of North Carolina's congressional districts are illegal partisan gerrymanders.

They've banned the map from being used in this year's election and ordered the General Assembly to draw new districts by 5pm on January 24th.

Lawmakers are expected to appeal the ruling.

This year's congressional election has just been thrown into chaos.

Late Tuesday, a panel of federal judges ruled unanimously that all of North Carolina's election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives are illegal partisan gerrymanders. All 13 districts must now be redrawn just weeks before the campaign season officially kicks off with candidate filings.

Ben Graumann, Equality NC

Updated Thursday 4pm 

A highly anticipated judiciary committee meeting was held Thursday afternoon.  For nearly 3 hours, Senate and House lawmakers discussed various merit selection proposals as well as new district maps for judges.  Democrats were skeptical of the GOP plans, especially considering the number of maps drawn for legislative and Congressional members that heavily favored Republicans.

A Stanford law professor hired by a three-judge panel to redraw North Carolina’s legislative districts testified Friday in a federal courtroom in Greensboro. Special Master Nathaniel Persily explained his changes to the district under questioning from judges and attorneys for Republican lawmakers.

A senate committee looking at judicial redistricting and reform will meet Wednesday in Raleigh, a few weeks after Democrats walked out of a previous meeting.

The Republican chairs had refused to allow a retired superior court judge invited by Democrats to address the committee.

WRAL

Friday update:

(Associated Press) The North Carolina House leader predicts redrawn election districts for trial court judges can be finalized with Senate Republicans by the end of January. But he's unsure what his colleagues think about a Senate proposal eliminating head-to-head judicial elections.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger appointed Thursday members of a special bipartisan joint committee tasked with recommending judicial changes to the General Assembly.

The filing period for North Carolina’s legislative seats begins in just six weeks. But election district boundaries are still up in the air. A federal court hearing in Greensboro this week may shed some light on whether judges consider efforts to redraw 28 districts to pass constitutional muster. 

Asheville Citizen-Times

Senators meeting to discuss whether to retool how judges are chosen in North Carolina are now collecting information from some professors and a national judicial reform group.

The Senate Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting holds its second meeting today at 1pm, with representatives from the University of North Carolina law school and Brennan Center for Justice making presentations.

Friday is the deadline for submitting suggestions to the Stanford University law professor tasked with re-drafting North Carolina's legislative maps.

A federal judicial panel appointed the so-called special master to fix flaws in the maps submitted by Republican lawmakers.

An outside expert appointed by a federal court to help draw some North Carolina legislative districts that judges worry remained unconstitutional has suggested changes.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Gerrymandering, where one party draws political maps that skew in their favor, is an issue that’s playing out in courts across the country.  Few regions have been impacted more heavily than Western North Carolina.  In Asheville, activists staged a creative event Saturday to draw attention to how our Congressional maps are drawn.  BPR's Jeremy Loeb was there.

There's a new twist in the ongoing case of North Carolina's 28 racially gerrymandered state legislative districts.

A panel of federal judges has issued an order raising serious doubts about the state's recent redistricting efforts and they hired an outsider to potentially redraw certain districts.

The redistricting practices of North Carolina Republicans are getting scrutinized yet again in court, this time in a trial in which federal judges must decide whether mapmakers can go too far drawing boundaries that favor their party.

A three-judge panel begins hearing evidence Monday in litigation filed by election advocacy groups, the state Democratic Party and voters who allege unlawful partisan gerrymandering in the state’s current congressional map, which favors the GOP. Those who sued want the map redone.

The fate of North Carolina's new legislative maps is now in the hands of a federal court. A ruling could come at any time.

But in a new twist in this long-running case, the judges signaled they may be willing to do something the plaintiffs explicitly did not ask for and state lawmakers do not want.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

The issue of how much partisan gerrymandering is too much is before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The court heard oral arguments Tuesday on a case out of Wisconsin challenging maps there for being too lopsided in favor of Republicans.  That case could have huge implications in North Carolina, which has a nearly identical political situation, and where a similar case is winding its way through the courts.  For the latest, BPR's Jeremy Loeb spoke with Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper. 

A proposal to extensively realign North Carolina's judicial election districts for the first time since the 1950s smacks of a Republican effort to put more GOP lawyers on the bench, critics said Wednesday.

WRAL

The leader of a North Carolina House committee considering changes to judicial election districts says updated boundaries based on outside feedback will be considered at the panel's next meeting, possibly next week.

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