Federal Court To Hear NC Racial Gerrymandering Case

Jul 27, 2017

A federal court ruled last summer that 28 of the state’s 170 legislative districts are unconstitutional because of illegally gerrymandering of black voters.
Credit Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

An advocacy group is expected to ask federal judges to stop the North Carolina General Assembly from conducting legislative matters until redistricting takes place.

At a federal courthouse in Greensboro today, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice will argue that since more than half of the legislature’s districts need to be redrawn, it should be banned from meeting in the meantime.

Last summer, a federal three-judge panel ruled that 28 of the state's 170 legislative seats are unconstitutional because of illegally gerrymandering. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ruling earlier this year.

However, drawing new maps would alter not only the boundaries of those invalidated districts, but also many of the neighboring seats. It's unclear just how many of the political puzzle pieces will be redrawn, although court filings indicate it is likely to be more than 100 of the districts.

Lawmakers say they will have new maps in place by November 15, in time for legislative elections. But the advocacy group wants new boundaries approved by mid-August, and a special election to be held next spring. That would be followed by the normal round of legislative elections in late 2018.

The hearing is expected to last into the afternoon, with no immediate ruling.