The latest (but certainly not last) round of redistricting lawsuits is behind us.
I noted before the Thanksgiving holiday that the most likely outcome of several motions related to Harper v Lewis was that the congressional maps that were drawn by the General Assembly earlier in November was for the court to uphold those maps and allow candidate filing for congressional races to proceed. The court has done just that. While the court ruled on the merits of the case today, the judges will lay out the reasoning for the ruling at a later date. That somewhat unusual procedure allows for congressional candidates to file for office immediately
Eric Holder’s National Redistricting Foundation led the plaintiffs in Harper v Lewis as part of their “sue until it’s blue” campaign. The group could theoretically appeal the district court’s decision, but they must know that they would face long odds. Both Democrats on the three-judge panel agreed with the unanimous ruling, lessening the chances that even a North Carolina Supreme Court with a 6-1 Democratic majority would overrule it. Perhaps more importantly, few people want a repeat of the 2016 mess when a court order forced the General Assembly to draw new congressional districts in February and delay the primaries for those districts from March to June. The result was chaos and confused voters.
The bad news is that, no matter what happens with next year’s congressional races, we can expect Holder’s group to sue North Carolina again in the next couple of years.
UPDATE: While 99 counties are now redistricting lawsuit-free, our brothers and sisters in Mecklenburg County are dealing with an ongoing lawsuit over judicial races. Judicial candidates there will have to run county-wide while the suit is ongoing.