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N.C. governor, AG urge state Supreme Court to ensure fair elections in redistricting cases

The plaintiffs in the two cases allege that the congressional and state legislative districts enacted by the Republican members of the General Assembly are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.
The unanimous decision by the three trial judges will be appealed by the advocacy groups and voters who challenged the new congressional and legislative lines.
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 12:08 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein filed an amicus brief in two cases currently before the North Carolina Supreme Court urging the court to ensure that state elections are conducted under fair maps that are free from partisan gerrymandering.

“The trial court recognized what has been obvious all along, that the legislative and congressional maps were intentionally gerrymandered,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “That’s wrong and unconstitutional because it strips voters of their voice and power in our democracy.”

The plaintiffs in the two cases allege that the congressional and state legislative districts enacted by the Republican members of the General Assembly are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

A North Carolina judicial panel has ruled to allow redistricting maps drawn by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to move forward, rejecting arguments that the lines were illegally politically stacked for Republicans.

The unanimous decision by the three trial judges, which followed a quick trial last week, will be appealed by the advocacy groups and voters who challenged the new congressional and legislative lines in court.

“Partisan gerrymandering distorts our democracy and violates our constitution. North Carolina’s constitution guarantees that people are sovereign and our elections are free,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “That’s why voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will return the power to the people by clarifying that our constitution prohibits partisan gerrymandering.”

The state Supreme Court, which is expected to have the final say on the maps, had ordered the trial judges to rule by Tuesday, apparently to discourage further delays in the 2022 election schedule.

The North Carolina Supreme Court had already ruled that all state primary elections must be delayed until May 2022 so state courts can review lawsuits claiming illegal gerrymandering.

Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein’s brief explains that, according to the North Carolina Constitution, “political power must be vested in and derived from the people” and that “our elected leaders flout that principle when they seek to perpetuate their power irrespective of the will of the voters.”

The brief also urges the court to ensure that any constitutional violations identified by the court “are remedied swiftly and completely.”

Read the brief here.

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