Plaintiffs who successfully challenged the legality of North Carolina’s legislative districts are asking federal judges to require lawmakers to draw new maps by Aug. 11 and to hold new elections in March, before the next regularly scheduled session of the General Assembly. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs say, state lawmakers lost their authority to pass bills or override vetoes after June 30, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the state’s voting districts are unconstitutional went into effect. Those arguments are part of the latest filing in the Covington v. North Carolina case, scheduled for a hearing Thursday in a federal courtroom in Greensboro. The three-judge panel that declared the maps unconstitutional last year and ordered lawmakers to draw new ones will now hear arguments about how quickly the process should happen.
Attorneys representing the state and legislative leaders have proposed a Nov. 15 deadline to pass new state House and Senate districts and submit them to the court for review. They argue that the process is required to include public hearings and feedback.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys Edwin Speas and Anita Earls with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice submitted a timeline Friday they say would provide adequate time for a primary election on Dec. 5 and general elections for legislative seats on March 6, 2018, reseating lawmakers before they reconvene for the 2018 short session. They say legislators are dragging their feet to try to avoid a special election.