North Carolina’s legislative redistricting and special elections in November are temporarily on hold — after the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay Tuesday.
The Court’s order comes after a lower court ruling in December, requiring special elections in the state due to violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“(The stay) shall remain in effect pending this Court’s action on the appeal,” the Supreme Court’s order said.
The original ruling, issued by a three-judge panel in August, deemed the state’s legislative districts “racial gerrymanders” but permitted them to stand for the 2016 elections given time constraints.
A federal court then ruled in December that the N.C. General Assembly must redraw the gerrymandered districts by March 15 and hold special elections in 2017.
“While special elections have costs, those costs pale in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens to continue to be represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander,” the December ruling said.
The Supreme Court decision by Chief Justice John Roberts follows an emergency motion filed by the State of North Carolina. The brief challenges the constitutionality of special elections as an appropriate remedy for the situation.
“The district court has now ordered the most extreme and intrusive remedy possible: partial invalidation of an election and imposition of a special election that overrides multiple provisions of the North Carolina Constitution,” the state’s emergency motion said.