The General Assembly has spent almost $5.6 million defending against a continuing series of lawsuits attacking the legislature’s redistricting efforts. And that tab, the official tally through Dec. 18, is sure to keep climbing as lawsuits filed since the Republican-led body’s 2011 redistricting for both state and federal offices continue grinding toward a conclusion, hopefully in time for this year’s elections. Candidate filing starts Feb. 12. In fact, several days before Christmas, attorneys who filed one of the original lawsuits against the General Assembly’s congressional redistricting efforts in 2011 were awarded nearly $1.4 million in legal fees from state coffers for their successful claims of racial gerrymandering, apparently bringing the state’s running tally for the cost of redistricting lawsuits to about $7 million.
State government has better things to do with the taxpayers’ money than wage these legal battles over what should be a nonpartisan process, said state Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) whose House district is one of the state’s more racially gerrymandered.
“I am quite frustrated at the waste of taxpayer money used to continue to defend unconstitutional districts and to fight more fairly drawn districts,” Harrison said. “What we really need is an independent process, now more than ever.”
The meter was running Friday in downtown Greensboro as well-compensated attorneys for both sides spent much of the day at a hearing in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, where the lawsuit at issue involved the sufficiency of revised election districts that the General Assembly developed under court order this summer to fix racial disparities in 28 districts statewide.
Full Article: N.C. redistricting cases cost taxpayers $5.6 million.