Panel Approves North Carolina US House Map for 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – A three-judge panel in North Carolina ruled Monday that the state’s new congressional map can be used in the 2020 election, rejecting a challenge to the latest version drawn by Republican state lawmakers last month. 

Republican state Sens. Dan Soucek, left, and Brent Jackson, right, review historical maps in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 16, 2016. (Corey Lowenstein/The News & Observer via AP, File)

Siding with a group of voters and democracy advocates in October, the panel had issued a temporary injunction that barred the use of Republican-drawn 2017 maps during next year’s elections. The judges determined those maps were extreme partisan gerrymanders. 

North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly then sketched out a new U.S. House district map proposal, which Democrats quickly challenged, saying the new maps were still unfair and would need to be redrawn. In a bench ruling Monday, the judges unanimously disagreed.

“Although one can certainly argue that the process was flawed or that the result is far from ideal, the net result is that the previously flawed 2016 congressional map has been replaced, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway said from the bench Monday, according to NBC News. 

Judges Joseph Crosswhite and Alma Hinton also presided over the case.

Running out of time to continue scrutinizing the partisanship of the new U.S. House district lines, the panel of judges agreed to stick with the districts state legislators redrew in November as the election cycle churns forward. 

The bench ruling came on the same day as the deadline for U.S. House candidate filing. 

Ten of North Carolina’s 13 current U.S. House members are Republicans but polls indicate the Tarheel State is a political battleground and North Carolina’s changing election maps may create a drastically different political landscape for congressional and legislative candidates next year. 

“The new Congressional map was drawn in full transparent view without partisan goals or data following extensive public input from North Carolinians to meet strict redistricting criteria identified by the courts as standards of fairness,” state Representatives David Lewis and Destin Hall, co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting, said in a joint statement Monday.

“It’s now time to stop the endless litigation and out-of-state lawyering around NC’s redistricting process and let the people determine their Congressional representatives,” the representatives added.

Lewis is named as a defendant in Common Cause v. Lewis, a related recent challenge pertaining to election maps for the state’s legislature. 

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