Judicial Watch: Court Appoints ‘Special Master’ on District Lines
Tolerating no more legislative delays, a federal court has appointed an independent expert to examine NC’s state legislative lines, and to redraw several.
The three-judge federal District Court panel reviewing North Carolina’s unconstitutional state legislative maps last week appointed an independent expert — a “special master” — to help it determine whether nine state legislative district lines must be redrawn, and how.
The Court’s order specifies that the appointed expert is to report his recommendations to the Court by December 1. The Court noted that it anticipated a January 2018 hearing on the recommendations, meaning that it could issue its order in time for the scheduled candidate filing period in February 2018.
The NC Branch of the NAACP issued a statement commending the Court’s ruling. NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman said, “We are all ‘sick and tired’ of being forced to vote in apartheid districts.”
The legislative districts covered include four House districts in Wake County, one each in Guilford and Mecklenburg counties, and one covering parts of Sampson and Wayne counties. Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the court challenge, said that the court’s decision was justified, since “It has been shown time and again that the state legislature refuses to draw fair districts that comply with the law.”
As CIB has discussed, this is a big deal for conservationists in North Carolina as well. Our current ability to impact the General Assembly is limited by how few competitive seats are on the campaign map. More competitive districts will give us the chance to elect more members of the North Carolina state legislature who consider public health and a clean environment to be critical to their base of support, and to all North Carolinians.