Supreme Court Halts North Carolina Redistricting

2018 midterms will likely proceed under existing map

The Supreme Court said North Carolina does not immediately have to redraw its congressional map. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday evening said that North Carolina does not have to redraw its congressional map by the end of January, as a lower court had instructed it to do earlier this month.

The high court’s order granting a stay of the lower court’s decision, pending the disposition of the state’s appeal, likely means the existing congressional map will be in place for the 2018 midterms. 

With the candidate filing deadline coming up on Feb. 28 and primaries on May 8, the court’s decision likely averts what could have been a confusing few months about where candidates were running in 2018.

In its emergency application, North Carolina lawmakers argued that the court-mandated redraw would “hopelessly disrupt North Carolina’s upcoming congressional elections.”

Under the current map, Republicans hold 10 House seats and Democrats hold three. The district court found that map, enacted in the spring of 2016 in response to court-mandated redistricting, to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. 

The existing map was the GOP legislature’s solution to another court decision that found the previous map to be an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

A three-judge panel ruled in February 2016 that the GOP-controlled legislature relied too heavily on race to draw the map in 2011. In drawing the existing map, Republicans in the legislature maintained Republicans’ partisan advantage in the delegation, simply shifting some incumbents’ districts around.

The Supreme Court is currently considering two other partisan gerrymandering cases, one about legislative districts in Wisconsin and one about a congressional district in Maryland. The high court has also agreed to hear a racial gerrymandering case out of Texas. 

Democrats are targeting four GOP-held districts in the Tar Heel State in 2018.

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