WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court late Friday rejected a request to stay a ruling that two congressional districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered in a 2011 redistricting and needed to be redrawn within two weeks.
Since the three-judge panel ruling two weeks ago the General Assembly redrew the maps and passed them through both chambers, along with a new congressional primary timeline. While working to comply, lawmakers requested the stay to avoid voter confusion and allow time for an appeal to be heard in court.
On February 5, the panel of federal judges barred elections in the majority black districts, the 1st and the 12th, until new maps were approved, calling the 2011 maps unconstitutional. They said race had been the main factor when the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the boundaries and state lawmakers were not justified in using that benchmark. Three voters filed suit in 2013 to invalidate the districts. Both are represented by Democrats, with G.K. Butterfield in the 1st, and Alma Adams in the 12th.
In the new timeline passed by the General Assembly Friday, presidential, gubernatorial and legislative primaries will be held March 15 as planned, but congressional primaries are pushed off until June 7. The Connect NC bond will remain on the March 15 ballot.
The Supreme Court gave no explanation for its decision in a one-sentence order issued late on Friday night.
Today, Governor McCrory visited the Great Hall of the Supreme Court to pay his respects to Justice Antonin Scalia. pic.twitter.com/o9Bk3cZgJR
— NC Governor’s Office (@govofficeNC) February 19, 2016
The political news website Politico reported that Justice Antonin Scalia had been expected to vote in favor of staying the ruling before his death last Saturday, though it was not immediately clear how his death affected the court’s decision. His memorial service is scheduled for Saturday. N.C. Governor Pat McCrory was among the visitors who paid their respects today at the Supreme Court’s Great Hall as Scalia lay in repose.