The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a trial court’s ruling ordering special elections in North Carolina that would have truncated the terms of many lawmakers in the state. The Supreme Court’s brief order included no reasoning, and it said the temporary stay of the lower court’s decision would last only as long as it took the justices to consider an appeal from state officials. In August, the trial court found that the state’s legislative map had been tainted by unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. But it allowed the November election to proceed, saying there was not enough time to draw new legislative maps.
In late November, after the election, the trial court ordered special elections in 2017, about halfway through what would ordinarily be two-year terms for state legislators. It set a March 15 deadline for state lawmakers to draw new maps.
An appeal of the August decision was already before the Supreme Court. State officials separately asked the justices to step in immediately to block the November ruling, which imposed what they called “the most extreme and intrusive remedy possible: partial invalidation of an election and imposition of a special election that overrides multiple provisions of the North Carolina Constitution.”