The North Carolina General Assembly is not entitled to another shot at fixing any remaining racial flaws in its most recent redistricting efforts, voting rights lawyers contend in newly filed court papers. Attorneys for 31 voters who successfully sued the legislature for racial gerrymandering are urging a three-judge, federal panel to resolve the lingering flaws on its own by adopting a “special master” consultant’s recent recommendations. “While courts generally are obligated to give the legislature the first chance to remedy violations in a redistricting plan, they are not required to give the legislature limitless chances to do so,” lawyers Allison Riggs and Edwin Speas assert in their joint petition.
A lawyer for current and former Republican leaders of the General Assembly has urged the judges to issue a final ruling in the case by Jan. 10, so that the General Assembly could either reconvene in Raleigh to fix any agreed-upon shortcomings or appeal the panel’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But if district courts had to keep giving legislators second chances to fix flawed voting maps, “the incentive for a legislature to enact a full remedy would be nonexistent: It could keep reaping the benefits from unconstitutional actions for an entire decade by making only minimal corrections on each remedial pass,” contend Speas of Raleigh and Riggs of Durham.