North Carolina’s congressional district maps were unconstitutionally drawn to favor Republicans, according to a Monday ruling from a panel of three federal judges. The ruling may require redrawn districts ahead of November’s elections, which could impact the GOP’s stronghold on seats in the House.
The court reached the same decision back in January and ordered an overhaul of the congressional maps, citing that lawmakers violated the Constitution’s equal-protection clause with gerrymandered maps that largely favored the Republican Party. Those gerrymandered maps included the state’s District 12, which covers parts of Charlotte and was called “the most gerrymandered district in America.” However, the Supreme Court blocked the lower court’s order and allowed the current map to remain.
The judges acknowledged that primary elections have already taken place, but countered with the fact that district maps had been ruled unconstitutional twice before. The panel provided possible remedies such as submitting a compliant districting plan before November and holding a general election without a primary election, or holding a primary election in November and then a general election sometime before Congress is seated in January 2019.
State legislators will likely send Monday’s opinion to the Supreme Court, but the Court is evenly split along conservative and liberal views since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in June. If the case is kicked back to a lower federal court, the election cycle soap opera is sure to continue.
Grab your popcorn.