Court Orders New Legislative Districts and Elections in 2017
Federal judges have told the North Carolina legislature to redraw its own districts by mid-March to replace ones the court struck down and to hold a special election under redrawn maps in November 2017.
The ruling Tuesday means those elected to the state House and Senate a few weeks ago would serve just one year, not two as expected.
The same three-judge panel last summer said nearly 30 legislative districts were illegal racial gerrymanders but decided it was too late to hold elections under new maps.
Attorneys representing legislative mapmakers wanted more time to redraw and the next election in 2018. Those lawmakers now say they'll appeal Tuesday's decision.
Sen. Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County and Representative David Lewis of Harnett County issued a joint statement:
"This politically-motivated decision, which would effectively undo the will of millions of North Carolinians just days after they cast their ballots, is a gross overreach that blatantly disregards the constitutional guarantee for voters to duly elect their legislators to biennial terms. We continue to believe the maps drawn by the General Assembly, pre-cleared by the Obama Justice Department and twice upheld by our state’s elected Supreme Court are constitutional, and we will move quickly to appeal."
But a lawyer who successfully sued over the districts says a special election is the best way to protect the rights of North Carolina residents.
North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds agrees.
"The North Carolina Democratic Party applauds the federal court's order to redraw these gerrymandered legislative districts. Our elected officials should fairly represent our state, and redrawn districts will help level the playing field."