The state Supreme Court will hear two cases on Monday that could determine how much power North Carolina lawmakers have as the 2018 elections approach. Gov. Roy Cooper has asked the seven justices to review a three-judge panel’s decision that upheld the merger this year of the state elections board and ethics commission, a case that could determine whether Republicans will have leadership on elections boards at the state and county level during presidential election years when North Carolina voters also elect their governor. Another case that will go before the state’s highest court on Monday is a redistricting challenge sent back to the justices earlier this year after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed federal court rulings finding unconstitutional racial gerrymandering in 28 state legislative districts and two unconstitutional gerrymanders in place from 2011 to 2016.
When Republicans had a majority on the state Supreme Court, the justices upheld the 2011 maps twice. Now the issue goes back to a court on which Democrats gained a majority in the November elections.
On Friday, while General Assembly committees and the state Senate debated new lines drawn by Thomas Hofeller, the same Republican Party mapmaker who drew the lines in 2011, attorneys for the challengers pointed out that no plan has been voted on and accepted by the federal judges. Furthermore, the attorneys said, the new lines put forward by Republican lawmakers include districts in Mecklenburg and Wake counties that challengers contend are racial gerrymanders.