North Carolina has been at the center of political controversy lately, and a new federal court order issued on Nov. 29 could throw the Tar Heel State in chaos yet again.
A three-judge panel of the state’s Middle District Court ruled that 28 of North Carolina’s House and Senate districts were constructed in a way that violated the Constitution, according to the Washington Examiner.
The problematic districts were ordered to be redrawn by mid-March of 2017 and voters in those areas will have to vote in special primary and general elections by next fall.
“This gives the state a total of seven months from the time the districts were held to be unconstitutional, which is longer than it took the 2011 legislature to redistrict the entire state,” the order stated.
The court found that lawmakers had unconstitutionally relied on residents’ race when drawing the boundaries for the suspect districts.
The ruling, which implicated one-sixth of the state’s 120 House districts, hasn’t gone over well with many of the state’s Republican leaders, including the chairmen of the House and Senate Redistricting Committees who pledged to appeal it.
“This politically motivated decision, which would effectively undo the will of millions of North Carolinians just days after they cast their ballots, is a gross overreach that blatantly disregards the constitutional guarantee for voters to duly elect their legislators to biennial terms,” Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Bob Rucho wrote in a joint statement.
“We continue to believe the maps drawn by the General Assembly, pre-cleared by the Obama Justice Department and twice upheld by our state’s elected Supreme Court are constitutional, and we will move quickly to appeal,” they added.
If the appeal is unsuccessful, however, the new district boundaries were slated to be due by March 15, and the elections would begin in late August or early September with primaries.
The general elections would be held in early November, with winners taking office for a one-year term on Jan. 2, 2018, the Examiner reported.
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