North Carolina Supreme Court Pushes Back Primaries Amid Suits Challenging GOP Gerrymandering

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 26:  A Fair Maps Rally was held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. The rally coincides with the U.S. Supreme Court hearings in landmark redistricting cases out of North Carolina and Maryland. The activists sent the message the the Court should declare gerrymandering unconstitutional now. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
A Fair Maps Rally held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday postponed the state’s March primaries to allow more time for state courts to review and rule on two gerrymandering lawsuits challenging Republicans’ newly drawn district maps.

The primaries, which were to be held on March 8, 2022, have been pushed back to May 17 under the Supreme Court’s order. Additionally, the order temporarily suspends the candidate-filing period until the lawsuits are resolved, and the trial judges in the two cases are directed to issue their rulings by Jan. 11.

The Supreme Court’s order cited “the great public interest in the subject matter” of the litigation and “the need for urgency” in reaching a final resolution as soon as possible.

In the first lawsuit addressed in the judge’s order, the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, mathematicians and voters are suing GOP lawmakers over their legislative and congressional maps. The second lawsuit, which only focuses on the congressional map, was brought by voters with the support of an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

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The plaintiffs in both cases accuse Republicans of illegally gerrymandering the maps on the basis of race and political leanings in order to lock in GOP control of North Carolina state and federal seats. The stakes are especially high now that North Carolina is receiving an additional congressional seat.

One of the Republican defendants in the litigation, state Rep. Ralph Hise (R), accused the Supreme Court, which is overseen by a Democratic majority, of political bias.

“The Democrats on the Supreme Court want districts that elect more Democrats, so they’re blocking every election in the state until they get their way,” Hise said without a hint of irony.

Read the order below:

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