Politics & Government

Lawmakers prepare redistricting appeal, gird for possible special session

Legislative leaders on Monday were putting the finishing touches on an appeal of the federal court redistricting ruling that came Friday, unexpectedly declaring two of the state’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally drawn racial gerrymandering.

The appeal is expected to be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court today, along with a motion to put the federal court ruling on hold based on the fact that the primary elections are scheduled for March 15. The court gave the state two weeks to draw new maps for the 1st and 12th congressional districts.

If the Supreme Court denies the motion for a stay, the governor would have to call the legislature back into session to draw new maps.

House Speaker Tim Moore’s office was alerting that chamber’s members Monday to prepare for the possibility of returning to Raleigh for a special session that would last at least two days, a spokeswoman said.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina issued an opinion that the Republican-led General Assembly in 2011 had redrawn the districts not for political reasons but for racial distribution, packing minorities into a district and weakening their influence in surrounding districts.

Legislators said the ruling throws the upcoming election into chaos. More than 8,600 absentee ballots have already been distributed.

The ruling halts the elections in those two districts, but broader implications were still being worked out. The state Board of Elections encouraged people to vote the entire ballots, and not be dissuaded by the uncertainty.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO