The validity of North Carolina’s legislative and congressional maps is back in the hands of the state Supreme Court as attorneys argued Monday whether the boundaries comply with federal and state laws and previous court opinions. The court’s seven justices offered few of their own questions during 90 minutes of arguments over the districts drawn by Republican legislators in 2011 for the General Assembly and North Carolina’s U.S. House delegation. As usual, the justices gave no indication when they would rule. Many arguments focused upon redistricting decisions the state’s highest court had released over the past 10-plus years for previous boundaries. Thousands of pages of motions, briefs and background have been filed by lawyers since this round of redistricting litigation began in late 2011. “I’m not sure there’s anything left unsaid here,” said Special Deputy Attorney General Alec Peters, defending the maps for the state.
A three-judge panel of trial court judges last summer upheld as lawful the districts, which helped the GOP expand their majorities in the legislature and win nine of the state’s 13 congressional seats during the 2012 elections. Unless the maps are struck down, they’ll keep being used through the 2020 elections, right before the next census.
Attorneys for dozens of Democratic voters as well as civil rights and election advocacy groups who sued told the state’s highest court the three Superior Court judges got it wrong. They also have filed a motion asking the justices to delay the 2014 primary while the case is decided. The filing period begins Feb. 10. Redistricting arguments delayed the 2002 and 2004 primaries.
The maps “must be held unconstitutional,” said Anita Earls, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, because the lower court judges made “fundamental errors.”
Full Article: NC Supreme Court ponders legality of redistricting – SFGate.