Court Rejects N.C. Redistricting Challenge

Ruling leaves in place GOP-drawn districts with primary set for Tuesday

Rep. Renee Ellmers faces potential elimination in North Carolina's Tuesday primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal court has rejected the latest challenge to North Carolina’s congressional map just days before the primary election, leaving in place the districts drawn by state Republican leaders.

Thursday's ruling came from the same federal district panel that on Feb. 6 ordered the state to redraw the map because it found an unconstitutional gerrymander in the 1st and 12th Congressional Districts. Those districts are held, respectively, by Democrats G.K. Butterfield and Alma Adams, both African Americans.

[ N.C. pushes back its congressional primaries ]

It was the second key ruling in as many weeks on congressional redistricting, which has become a hot-button, election-year issue over partisan politics and voting rights. The Supreme Court ruled on a similar Virginia case last week.

Both North Carolina and Virginia are holding elections under new congressional maps that federal courts mandated be drawn to undo racial gerrymandering that packed black voters into too few districts.

While the North Carolina judges said in their ruling that they were “very troubled” by statements from a key state GOP lawmaker about the map being used for political gerrymandering, they concluded that the challenge from two voters did not give enough information for them to resolve that claim.

The ruling also found that the plaintiffs were too vague on why the latest map violates voting rights. But the judges left open the possibility of future challenges.  

[ Supreme Court Rules on Va. Redistricting ]  

In the Virginia case, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on May 23 that a group of Republican members of Congress can’t challenge a lower court ruling that found an unconstitutional gerrymander created the lines for Virginia’s majority black 3rd District.  

​Virginia's congressional primaries are scheduled for June 14.  

The congressional delegations in Virginia and North Carolina are expected to remain overwhelmingly Republican this year.  

Simone Pathé contributed to this report.

Contact Ruger at  toddruger@cqrollcall.com  and follow him on Twitter  @ToddRuger .

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