NC Supreme Court hears redistricting case arguments, expert weighs in

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:43 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:48 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - On Monday morning, North Carolina’s highest court heard arguments on the legality of new congressional maps that favor Republicans in a closely divided state.

North Carolinians like Leah Boyd have kept a close eye on the state’s redistricting case.

“I think districting for any voting needs to be based on the population and not based on the party that people are registered to,” Boyd said.

A panel of three superior court judges ruled last month that the district lines on both the congressional and legislative maps drawn by Republicans are gerrymandered, but not unconstitutional.

If the state Supreme Court rules differently, it could open a new discussion of what is permissible partisanship and what is an unconstitutional entrenchment of legislative power.

Irving Joyner, North Carolina Central University law professor, believes the decision justices make will be consequential.

“You have a situation here where the son of one of the leaders in the legislator is a member of the court,” Joyner said.

Overall, three justices were asked to recuse themselves from the redistricting case because of potential conflicts of interest. None of them granted those requests, giving registered Democrats on the state Supreme Court a 4-3 advantage.

If the justices decide to uphold the decision from the superior court, the election will use the lines that are presently drawn. If they overturn it, according to Joyner, it could go two different ways.

“They can have a special master come in [and] draw lines, but in all probability, they will send it to the special legislator to have them redraw new lines because that is what has happened in the past,” Joyner said.

Joyner expects the state Supreme Court to announce a decision anytime between now and next week. If they overturn the congressional maps, the state primary election could be delayed again.

For the May 17th primary to take place on time, any new lines would have to be redrawn quickly.

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