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Federal judges order North Carolina to redraw congressional districts, hold special election

[JURIST] Judges for the US District Court for the Middle District Court of North Carolina ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that North Carolina must redraw congressional districts by March 15, 2017, and hold special primary and general elections by next fall. The order follows afterthe court found 28 districts' elections to be unconstitutional [press release] due to racial gerrymandering. The ruling also requires lawmakers to submit new maps to the court and permits those elected to state House and Senate recently, in compromised districts, to serve only one year instead of two. The judges went on to state, "[w]hile 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." Republican lawmakers are currently moving to appeal the decision, arguing [press release] it is politically-motivated and disregards the constitutional guarantee for voters to duly elect their legislators to biennial terms.

The lawsuit was originally filed back in May of last year by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice [advocacy website] on behalf the citizens affected by the election tampering. In February the same court ordered [JURIST report] North Carolina to redraw the 1st and 12th congressional voting districts ruling the district drawing were unconstitutional for similar racial gerrymandering. The Supreme Court originally upheld [order, PDF] the decision in a one-sentence order stating they would not intervene. In June the Supreme Court agreed to hear [AP report] Republican lawmakers' appeal [appeal, PDF] regarding the congressional districts redrawing, with arguments scheduled to occur next week.

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