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Federal appeals court rules North Carolina gerrymandering case must be heard in state court
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Federal appeals court rules North Carolina gerrymandering case must be heard in state court

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled Thursday that a lawsuit challenging the North Carolina General Assembly redistricting plans under the North Carolina constitution must be heard in state, not federal court.

Plaintiffs allege that the redistricting plans are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. Plaintiffs are 38 voters who are part of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Among others, defendants include Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Redistricting Ralph Hise, Jr., Senior Chairman of the House Select Committee on Redistricting David Lewis, and the state of North Carolina.

Defendants appealed the district court’s decision to remand the case to state court under the Refusal Clause of 28 USC § 1443(2). Defendants claimed that because they have an enforcement role, they are capable of violating equal rights protections. However, the Fourth Circuit struck this down stating they are legislative actors, not executive actors.

The Fourth Circuit also struck down defendants’ argument that the suit raises substantial questions of federal law.