RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina’s congressional maps are back in the spotlight. A Wake County judicial panel on Monday ruled North Carolina's 2020 Congressional election is too close to further litigate the district map.
At Monday's hearing, lawyers for the plaintiffs said the map lawmakers approved last month has the same problems as the one it replaced. They wanted the judges to delay the election while the new map goes to trial. Lawyers for the legislature's Republican leadership said this be a major expense and a logistical nightmare, especially for rural counties with limited resources.
Reading the ruling on behalf of the panel, Judge Paul Ridgeway said the judges' decision had nothing to do with the merits of the case. Ridgeway noted the map lawmakers approved last month does differ from the 2016 map that faced a lawsuit and lawmakers drew the new map in accordance with the court's instructions. Ridgeway said three months is not enough time to allow the court time to decide factual matters, pointing out the previous lawsuits surrounding the state's maps played out over the course of one to three years.
Becky Harper, one of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said she was disappointed but she understood the timing issue.
“What we've accomplished is really raising awareness about the importance of this issue, and I don't think we'll ever go back to the secret, dark-room process that we had before in North Carolina," she said.
In a statement released shortly after the ruling, Senate Redistricting Committee co-chair Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell County, said, "Now that a unanimous, bipartisan court has denied the plaintiffs’ last-minute challenge to the 2019 Congressional map and the candidate filing period is open and under way, we can finally put this decade of relentless litigation behind us."
The election will move forward using the new maps.
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