North Carolina legislative districts drawn up by Republicans are back in court as federal judges decide whether to accept proposed boundary changes from the third-party expert they appointed. The three-judge panel scheduled a hearing Friday in Greensboro to listen to why a Stanford University law professor they hired as a special master redrew boundaries the way he did. The judges appointed Nathaniel Persily because they were concerned new state House and Senate maps approved by the GOP-controlled legislature last summer failed to remove unlawful racial bias from four districts. House and Senate districts drawn by Republican legislators have been challenged in courts since 2011.
The judges also said it appeared a handful of districts in and around Raleigh and Charlotte were needlessly altered from their initial shapes — possibly violating the state constitution — when the GOP first approved maps for this decade in 2011. The original maps helped Republicans retain and expand their majorities, making it easier for them to enact their conservative agenda on taxes, education and social issues.
The judges’ directive to Persily meant he redrew lines for roughly two dozen of the 170 General Assembly districts, eliminating “all of the constitutional infirmities the court has identified,” he wrote Dec. 1.