On August 3, North Carolina Republicans began to release details of scheduled dates to redraw legislative boundaries found unconstitutional by federal courts.
In August 2016, a federal panel of three judges: Catherine Eagles, Thomas Schroeder and James Wynn, ruled that 28 of North Carolina’s 170 legislative districts were racially gerrymandered and set a deadline for the maps to be redrawn and for special elections to be held in changed districts by March 2017. Eagles was a former President Obama appointee to the U.S. Middle District of NC, Schroeder was a George W. Bush appointee to the same district and Wynn was a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge appointed by Obama.
NC lawmakers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, putting a halt on the ordered 2017 special elections, and in June the justices agreed with the panel’s findings. In a court order issued July 31, the judges told lawmakers that within the week of enacting the new district plans, they have to share the maps with the courts and include accompanying transcripts and documents. Following this, challengers then have until September 15 to file any objections.
There was a session in the General Assembly on Thursday August 2, where the resolution called for lawmakers to return on August 18 to consider issues that may include the new Senate and House maps, as well as the proposed new state districts and bills related to election law. Votes will not be held on that day, but they are expected to briefly convene in order to speak on these issues.
Representative David Lewis of Harnett County is co-chairman of the redistricting committees that will be working to correct the district lines found to be racially gerrymandered. Senator Ralph Hise of Mitchell County and Representative Lewis gave a statement about moving forward with redrawing and further scheduling.
“While we originally planned to set aside more time to receive comments from North Carolinians and hold a public hearing on criteria across the state, we have all along said that we will comply with the court’s order. Moving forward with the process over the next week will help us comply with the court’s deadline,” said Hise and Lewis in a joint statement released from the News and Observer earlier last week.
Thomas Hofeller, a veteran mapmaker for the NC Republican party, is the creator behind the maps said to be racially gerrymandered and will be returning to help redraw the district maps.
The NAACP and others have asked the judges for a quick resolution for the situation and have advocated for special elections. The next scheduled elections have been set for November 2018.