Federal Panel To Hear Arguments Over Redrawn Legislative Districts

Oct 11, 2017

Current (left) and new (right) State Senate districts in Mecklenburg County
Credit NCGA

On Thursday, a panel of federal judges will convene in Greensboro to hear the latest round of arguments in a redistricting case which has already worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and back.

At the heart of this case are 28 state legislative districts found to be illegal racial gerrymanders. This same panel of judges made that determination last year and ordered that new districts be drawn and new elections held in the spring. The state appealed that ruling.

While the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that the districts were illegal, the justices ordered the lower court to reconsider the special election.

In the meantime, the General Assembly redrew most of the districts to comply with the court order.

The judicial panel will consider whether these new maps go far enough.

Lawyers for the state will argue they do, that race was not an official criterion used in drawing these new maps.

But the plaintiffs are expected to argue that race still played a part in these new legislative maps.

A decision is expected soon. But that doesn’t mean the end of racial gerrymandering cases before this same panel.

Next week, the three judges will preside over four days of arguments about North Carolina's congressional map. Two of those districts, the 12th in Charlotte and the 1st in northeastern North Carolina, have also been found to be illegal racial gerrymanders.

Tom Bullock will cover this hearing in Greensboro, and will have coverage during All Things Considered.