A panel of three federal judges in North Carolina struck down the state’s 2016 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander on Tuesday.
The ruling blocks the state from conducting any elections under the 2016 map and orders the state’s General Assembly to redraw congressional districts by Jan. 24 for the 2018 elections.
The state will likely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and ask for a stay. The Supreme Court is currently considering two other partisan gerrymandering cases, one about state legislative districts in Wisconsin and one about Maryland’s congressional map.
The filing deadline for congressional candidates in North Carolina is Feb. 28, and the primary is May 8.
The Jan. 24 deadline gives the General Assembly two weeks to come up with a remedial plan. But because it’s the middle of an election year, the court is also appointing a so-called special master to develop a remedial plan in case the the General Assembly fails to deliver a plan or their plan doesn’t remedy the partisan gerrymander.
The fact that North Carolina has a Democratic governor doesn’t give Democrats much control in this situation. The governor does not have power to veto a redistricting plan from the General Assembly, said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center's Democracy Program.
There’s precedent for court-mandated redistricting during an election year in North Carolina. After a three-judge panel in February 2016 ruled that the GOP-legislature relied too heavily on race in 2011 to draw the 1st and 12th Districts, the General Assembly had to approve a new map for the 2016 elections.
The new map maintained Republicans’ partisan advantage in the delegation but shifted some incumbents’ districts, even putting two incumbents in the same district. The adoption of that new 2016 map forced the state to move its House primaries back to June.
Todd Ruger contributed to this report.
House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper said Wednesday that a measure updating sexual harassment procedures he had planned to introduce this week is still being fine-tuned but that he’s hopeful it will be ready for release early next week.
If he can meet that new due date, a markup on the measure could be held later that week, the Mississippi Republican said.
“The goal is to get it passed out of the House before the end of January,” he added.
Harper said the bill authors are continuing to meet with various stakeholders and members as they finalize the legislation.
“We want to make sure that we don’t have any unintended consequences,” he said.
“We’re focusing, too, on how we encourage prevention so we don’t have to deal with this in the future, but if we do, to deal with it in the right way,” Harper added.