In a 6-3 decision on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied North Carolina Republican lawmakers' emergency appeal to block the congressional maps drawn by a panel of nonpartisan advisers and certified by the N.C. Supreme Court last month.
This comes after the Feb. 4 N.C. Supreme Court ruling that the Republican-drawn maps were unconstitutional — one of the latest updates in the long dispute regarding allegations of partisan gerrymandering in the state's congressional maps.
“We’re pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the legislative defendants’ shameless attempt to impose their gerrymandered congressional map upon North Carolina," Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, said in a press release on Monday. "This is a welcome victory for the people of our state and our Constitution.”
Republican leaders argued that the power to create congressional maps is the job of the state legislature rather than the courts according to the Constitution.
“The United States Constitution is clear — state legislatures, not state judges, are responsible for setting the rules governing elections," N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a Feb. 25 press release. "By striking the General Assembly’s congressional map and redrawing their own, with the help of Democrat partisans, the courts have, once again, violated the separation of powers."
Joined by justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote a dissenting opinion in the ruling on Monday.
Alito wrote it was likely the emergency order applicants could show that N.C. Supreme Court exceeded its limits. He cited the Election Clause specifically, which states that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”
"If the language of the Elections Clause is taken seriously, there must be some limit on the authority of state courts to countermand actions taken by state legislatures when they are prescribing rules for the conduct of federal elections," Alito wrote.
The Supreme Court decision ends the long redistricting fight in North Carolina, and the state's congressional maps are now finalized for the 2022 midterm elections.
The statewide primary is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 with races on the ballot for U.S. Senate and House, N.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals and the N.C. General Assembly.
The voter registration deadline is April 22, and early voting begins on April 28.
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