North Carolina lawmakers say they might have to change 116 of the state’s 170 state legislative districts to correct the illegal racially gerrymandered districts used to elect General Assembly members for the past six years. The private attorneys representing the legislators who were sued over the 2011 district lines offered that detail in federal court documents this week as one reason for opposing special elections this year. A month has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a ruling of three federal judges who found 28 North Carolina legislative districts were drawn illegally to weaken the overall influence of black voters.
The three judges who made that ruling in 2016 – James Wynn, an Obama appointee to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Catherine Eagles, an Obama appointee, and Thomas Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee – have been tasked with deciding how quickly legislators have to correct the maps and whether there is time for elections this year in the newly drawn districts.
The NAACP and other challengers have asked the judges for a quick resolution and advocated for elections this year.
“North Carolinians have the right to have their laws enacted by representatives elected from constitutionally compliant districts,” the challengers said in a document filed last month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case. “Yet this illegally constituted legislature has demonstrated that it is willing to go to unconstitutional lengths to retain power.”