Legislative leaders want to drop their N.C. Supreme Court appeal of congressional map

Redistricting legal battle could feature new fight over special masters’ fees


State legislative leaders filed paperwork Wednesday with the N.C. Supreme Court to drop their appeal of a court-ordered congressional map that will be used only for this year’s elections.

Lawmakers are taking this step after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in June to consider the legal dispute involving the future of N.C. congressional maps.

“Based on the filings to date in this [N.C. Supreme] Court, it is clear that all parties agree that nothing in the outcome of this appeal will disturb the maps currently in place for the 2022 election cycle,” wrote Phillip Strach, legislative leaders’ attorney. “That is because the remedial Congressional Map ordered by the trial court is only applicable to the 2022 election, and that map will apply to the 2022 election regardless of the outcome of the appeal in this Court. Accordingly, in several portions of these filings, parties point out that the Congressional Maps ordered by the trial court are only valid for the 2022 election.”

“Because the remedial Congressional Map ordered by the trial court will apply in 2022, and because 2022 is the only election to which the remedial Congressional Map will apply, in an effort to avoid further cost and confusion to the taxpayers and voters of North Carolina, Legislative Defendants seek to dismiss the entirety of their portion of this cross-appeal,” Strach added.

Lawmakers’ latest move would not end the N.C. Supreme Court’s consideration of state election maps. Left-leaning critics of the Republican-led General Assembly continue to fight maps drawn for this year’s N.C. House and Senate races. The state’s highest court will not call for election districts to be redrawn again for the November elections. But the court could make rulings affecting legislative election maps for 2024 and beyond.

Strach’s filing indicates legislative leaders have agreed to cover all costs related to their appeal of the congressional maps. Lawyers representing the State Board of Elections took no position on the legislators’ motion. Lawyers for the three sets of plaintiffs in the case “indicated that they would file a response after seeing this motion,” Strach wrote

The latest court filing in Raleigh arrives less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed without comment to take up the redistricting case titled Moore v. Harper.

Justices will decide “Whether a State’s judicial branch may nullify the regulations governing the ‘Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives … prescribed … by the Legislature thereof,’ and replace them with regulations of the state courts’ own devising, based on vague state constitutional provisions purportedly vesting the state judiciary with power to prescribe whatever rules it deems appropriate to ensure a ‘fair’ or ‘free’ election,” according to the petition N.C. legislative leaders submitted to the nation’s highest court.

No date has been set for oral arguments in Washington, D.C.  A decision in the Moore case is likely to fall close to the end of the U.S. Supreme Court’s next term in June 2023.



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