The prospect for new state legislative districts this spring and elections this fall are dimming despite a court order, legal experts say. The situation is just one of several ongoing legal battles surrounding North Carolina elections. An elections schedule ordered by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in November requires new General Assembly districts to be drawn and approved by March 15 followed by a candidate filing period, primaries and a November election. The ruling came after a three-judge panel from the court ruled in August that nine North Carolina state Senate districts and 19 House districts were unconstitutional because they were drawn using race as the predominate factor. “This state’s citizens have the right to vote in districts that accord with the Constitution,” the court said in its August decision. “We therefore order that new maps be drawn that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.” But U.S. Chief Justice Chief Justice John Roberts put the 4th Circuit decision and the election schedule on hold late last year by, adding the case, North Carolina v. Covington, to a conference by the justices on January 19. On January 10, the court granted a stay of the 4th Circuit’s order.
Since then, Covington has yet to move. The high court has not granted the state’s petition to hear the case and last week it was dropped from a running list of potential cases for the court’s upcoming term.
Rick Hasen, an elections law professor at the University of California at Irvine who has closely followed North Carolina cases, says the move indicates that the justices anticipate other redistricting cases already in the pipeline could affect the outcome.
“The case has been put on indefinite hold by the Supreme Court, likely pending the outcome of the other racial gerrymandering cases now pending,” Hasen said in an email response to Carolina Public Press.
Full Article: Legal challenges leave future NC elections in limbo.