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NC redistricting: Lawsuit aims to overturn US House map

A North Carolina Senate staffer looks over a proposed congressional map during a Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, Thursday, October. 19, 2023.

A North Carolina Senate staffer looks over a proposed congressional map during a Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, Thursday, October. 19, 2023.

tlong@newsobserver.com

A group of Black and Latino voters sued the state on Monday over a new map of North Carolina’s congressional districts which they argue unconstitutionally discriminates against minority voters.

Republicans in the legislature drew a congressional map with 10 Republican-leaning districts, three Democratic-leaning districts and one swing district.

“By strategically packing and cracking North Carolina’s minority voters, the 2023 congressional plan entrenches the state’s white majority and erases the gains made by voters of color in the 2020 and 2022 election cycles,” the lawsuit says.

Plaintiffs have requested a three-judge panel to hear the case and are asking for an injunction to prevent congressional elections from being run in the current map.

The challenge comes on the same day that candidate filing for the 2024 election began. If a judge acts quickly to grant the request for an injunction, the filing process could be disrupted. If the new maps are temporarily blocked from taking effect, congressional candidates would not be able to file to run in districts that may be struck down.

So far, though, plaintiffs do not appear to have filed a motion to expedite the case. Candidate filing ends on Dec. 15.

This is the second lawsuit to target the state’s new electoral districts, which passed the Republican-controlled legislature in October. Two Black voters challenged the new state Senate map, which they argue illegally dilutes the voting power of Black residents in Eastern North Carolina.

Plaintiffs in that case had asked the judge to decide whether to block the new map before candidate filing begins, but the judge declined to expedite the schedule.

Due to recent decisions from conservative courts at the state and federal levels, partisan gerrymandering is no longer a valid legal challenge. During the redistricting process this year, Republicans were open about drawing maps that benefited their own party, while stressing that they did so within legal bounds.

While courts won’t rule on partisan gerrymandering, racial gerrymandering is still illegal under federal law. The federal Voting Rights Act prohibits any election law that discriminates based on race, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed with plaintiffs in Alabama who argued that the state’s electoral maps unlawfully diluted the votes of Black residents.

Kyle Ingram is a politics reporter for the News & Observer. He reports on the legislature, voting rights and more in North Carolina politics and produces the daily Under the Dome newsletter. He has previously worked for NC Newsline, States Newsroom and The Daily Tar Heel.

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