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North Carolina court rejects GOP lawmakers’ latest attempt at congressional map redraw

North Carolina’s congressional map is still too politically skewed, a three-judge panel ruled on Wednesday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) — A Superior Court panel in North Carolina’s capital rejected one of the political maps recently redrawn by the state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly, Wednesday.

The three-judge panel in Wake County approved the GOP lawmakers’ newly drawn political maps for the Senate and cleared the recent boundaries for use in the 2022 elections.

The new congressional maps, however, are still too politically gerrymandered, the judges said on Wednesday. 

Now, the state's Supreme Court will hear an emergency appeal.

In a Wednesday decision, Superior Court Judges Graham Shirley, Nathaniel Poovey and Dawn Layton accepted the recommendations of special masters they had appointed to help craft new voting districts for residents of the Tar Heel State. 

New congressional districts, if approved, could be used for the rest of the decade. 

According to the judges, the latest U.S. House redistricting doesn’t meet the standards of partisan fairness set by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV), one of the groups to bring the initial lawsuit against state lawmakers, claimed the maps unfairly blocked Democratic voters from having their voices heard. 

"We are proud to have secured the historic state Supreme Court ruling that resulted in a bipartisan state House map, and applaud the trial court on producing a congressional map that meets the Supreme Court’s mandate. However, we are disappointed this panel approved a state Senate map which fails to treat all citizens fairly and equally, regardless of party, race, or region. Our legal battle — for fair maps, free elections, and a government that truly reflects the will of the people — will continue,” NCLCV Executive Director Carrie Clark said, in response to the North Carolina trial court's ruling on the remedial congressional and legislative maps.

The three judges had previously decided to uphold all of the GOP-drawn maps, stating that political gerrymandering is not illegal. 

But North Carolina’s highest court overruled that decision earlier this month. 

“Given that the ultimate authority and directive is given to the Legislature to draw redistricting maps, we conclude that the appropriate remedy is to modify the Legislative Remedial Congressional Plan to bring it into compliance with the Supreme Court’s order,” the Superior Court panel wrote in a 32-page order Wednesday. 

“In our appeal of the Senate map, we have again requested that the Supreme Court order any approved state legislative maps be used for the duration of the decade, in compliance with our constitution's ban on mid-decade redraws," the NCLCV said on Wednesday. 

The groups had presented their own maps in case the lawmakers failed to create fair ones, but the court rejected their offer. 

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