Special session to redraw NC congressional districts may be called next week

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said Monday that Feb. 15 is the likely date for a special session, if one is called, to redraw Congressional districts in the state.RELATED: Judges strike down 2 North Carolina congressional districts

Later Monday afternoon, the state filed an emergency petition seeking an emergency stay. A panel of federal judges on Friday struck down two majority black congressional districts in the state, saying race was the predominant factor in drawing those lines but state legislators lacked the justification for doing so.

Then, Monday night, a judge gave the plaintiffs until noon Tuesday to respond to the state’s request to stay the ruling.

But the decision frustrated Republican lawmakers, who now face a tight timeframe to draw new districts. The North Carolina primary is March 15.

“The timing is questionable at best,” Moore said.

“We trust the federal trial court was not aware an election was already underway and surely did not intend to throw out state into chaos by nullifying ballots that have already been sent out and votes that have already been cast,” said Sen. Bob Rucho and Rep. David Lewis, the chair of the redistricting committees.

“We hope the court will realize the serious and far-reaching ramifications of its unprecedented, 11th-hour action and immediately stay the issue.”

The State Board of Elections said more than 8,000 absentee ballots have been sent out and 400 have been returend.

But Bob Hall of Democracy NC said, “The districts are illegal. They violate the law.”

Hall said the districts should have been thrown out a year ago.

A panel of federal judges on Friday struck down two majority black congressional districts in the state, saying race was the predominant factor in drawing those lines but state legislators lacked the justification for doing so.

The judges ruled late Friday that the 1st and 12th Districts violated the Constitution’s equal protection provision and must be redrawn. The judges ordered the General Assembly to come up with new boundaries within two weeks, although the state could seek a delay with an appeals court. Congressional primaries are set for March 15.

Republican lawmakers drew the two districts with majority black voting age populations, even though both districts were below 50 percent in the previous round of redistricting and voters had elected black lawmakers.

State attorneys argued that race wasn’t the predominant motive for forming either district.

Moore said the decision on calling a special session is likely to be made early this week.

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