New North Carolina maps sent to judges; plaintiffs offer alternatives
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly on Friday handed judges the redistricting maps lawmakers approved to replace boundaries struck down by the state Supreme Court earlier this month.
Republican lawmakers had until 5 p.m. to provide the final set of plans for the state House and Senate seats and for the U.S. House delegation from North Carolina. A three-judge trial court panel also wanted other details and data showing how lawmakers complied with a state Supreme Court ruling overturning previous maps because the judges said it s were illegal partisan gerrymanders.
Voters and advocacy groups who successfully sued to overturn the maps approved by the Legislature in November were also asked by the Supreme Court to submit their own alternative maps Friday night, and did so.
The judges, with the help of three experts they named this week, will review the adopted districts. They were ordered to pass or approve plans consistent with the state constitution by noon Wednesday. This might require further adjustments. For now, the filing of applications for the May 17 primary should resume Thursday morning.
Republicans who control the General Assembly and drew the new maps said they met the statistical thresholds suggested by the Supreme Court to ensure partisan fairness in an otherwise tightly divided state.
“This court should issue an order approving these plans and allow the election process to move forward without further delay,” Phil Strach, attorney for the GOP legislative leaders who were sued, wrote in a legal memo on Friday.
Each of the three maps appears to give Republicans a slight edge, according to an analysis of districts using statewide election results from 2016 and 2020, but would offer Democrats avenues to win majorities in favorable political environments. . In particular, the map of the expected 14 US House seats in North Carolina appears to create four highly competitive districts.
A group of plaintiffs led by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters proposed corrective maps for the United States House and the seats in the State Senate and House. The group included those maps in its lawsuit and presented them during last month’s trial challenging the legislature’s plans.
Other voters, who have filed their own lawsuit and are backed by a national Democratic redistricting group, have provided alternative maps for the US House and State Senate only, since the final plan for the state House was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support, their attorney wrote.
By contrast, “the newly adopted Congressional and Senate maps come nowhere near meeting partisan fairness and other key parameters identified by the Supreme Court,” wrote attorney Narendra Ghosh.
Lawyers representing Common Cause, another plaintiff in the lawsuit, asked judges to redraw a House district and a Senate district in eastern North Carolina to meet what they call lines that make more difficult for black voters to elect the candidates of their choice.