GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - District maps previously approved by a North Carolina state court will stand during this election season as the U.S. Supreme Court shoots down Republican lawmaker efforts to toss the maps out.
The ruling was 6 to 3 from the Supreme Court which ultimately allows the state to move forward with the May 17 primary election date.
Justices Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch voted to take the case, but Justice Kavanaugh said the appeal was too close to the election for federal courts to change the lines.
Under the approved voting lines, Republicans are expected to win seven congressional seats and Democrats are expected to win six. One seat in the Raleigh area is likely to be a tossup, making the state nearly evenly split along party lines.
Senate Leader Phil Berger has spoken against the decision hinting that while Republicans will now turn their focus on the 2022 elections, they aren’t ready to put this ruling and this case to bed.
ECU political science expert Peter Francia says he wouldn’t be surprised to see this case approach the Supreme Court again.
“There has to be some consideration to timing when we’re talking about elections. There’s only so much time that maps can be drawn and these considerations can be made,” said Francia. “So, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for Justice Kavanaugh to say that more time needs to be taken and that it’s appropriate to settle this matter after the 2022 election.”
Under a conservative leaning court, Republicans would count on Justices Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett to shift their opinions.
“Obviously not everyone is going to agree with Justice Kavanaugh on that, but I don’t think there’s anything unreasonable about that at all,” said Francia.
The map in use for this upcoming election period will only be in effect for this year.
While it will likely pull the state closer to the middle of the party spectrum, these lines are more favorable to Democrats than the previously Republican passed lines of last year.
Francia says this is typical of the leading political party of each election season and while the majority party is going to want to have the lines fall in their favor, they will always have to abide by the state and U.S. Constitutions at the end of the day.
Is it time to put the back and forth of these redistricting maps in the past? Francia says just for a while.
By deciding not to see this case today, the Supreme Court can be expected to revisit it in the future, it just won’t be before North Carolinians hit the polls this year.
Justice Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion reaffirms the stance he took in the Alabama redistricting case last month: Federal courts cannot rearrange state election laws in the period of time close to an election.
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