NC Republicans seek to move congressional maps case to federal court

Redistricting Map Computrer
A computer monitor shows proposed maps during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (Robert Clark for the North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Republican legislative leaders are trying to move from state court to federal court a lawsuit challenging the North Carolina congressional map drawn in 2016.

The GOP lawmakers filed a notice Monday in a case filed last month in Wake County court which challenged the congressional maps. The lawmakers’ attorneys said the change is necessary because complying with the plaintiffs’ demands for a new map would conflict state redistricting rules with the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act.

A federal court granting the move could scuttle the plaintiffs’ case, since the U.S. Supreme Court recently declared federal courts lack authority to rule on partisan gerrymandering claims.

State judges already set a hearing next week on the plaintiffs’ request to block the map’s use and demand lawmakers redraw it for the 2020 elections. The three-judge panel set an Oct. 24 hearing date on a request by the plaintiffs in the case to block the maps now, rather than wait for a trial. The voters who sued say the legislature could redraw the state’s 13 U.S. House districts in time for use in the scheduled March primary.

The congressional lawsuit was filed three weeks after the same judges struck down state House and Senate maps on similar claims that Republican lawmakers violated the state constitution by deliberately drawing them to keep control of the General Assembly.