Republican state Sens. Dan Soucek, left, and Brent Jackson review historical maps during the Senate Redistricting Committee for the 2016 Extra Session in the Legislative Office Building at the NC General Assembly.
While the Supreme Court prepares to rule on a very similar case, a federal appeals court panel has ruled that several districts in North Carolina were drawn unconstitutionally to gain a partisan advantage.
"Once again", he added, "unaccountable federal judges are attempting to throw North Carolina's elections into chaos by adopting radical, untested new theories at the eleventh hour". Candidate filing is in February and the judges order wants new maps produced before then.
A panel of federal judges Wednesday effectively upheld Pennsylvania's often-criticized congressional district map, declining to take up a novel challenge that sought to have it declared unconstitutional as gerrymandered to favor the party in power. The third judge, George W. Bush appointee William Osteen, authored a separate opinion agreeing that the existing map violated the 14th Amendment. One judge dissented from the majority's conclusion that the map also violated the First Amendment rights of Democrats in each district. That ruling is now being appealed.
The judges ordered the General Assembly to approve another set of districts by January 24. "It's long past time for the legislature to produce fair maps that represent the diverse communities of North Carolina".
Because of upcoming election deadlines, the court also ordered that the parties propose special masters to redraw the map in the event the court rejects any legislatively enacted remedial map. Late previous year, a lower court found that the map was drawn to give Republicans an advantage - but concluded that partisan gerrymandering did not violate the state constitution.
Last month, a Commonwealth Court judge recommended that the state Supreme Court uphold the map. Other courts that have struck down maps based on partisan considerations involved state legislative districts.
In the past, there have been allegations that both major parties in North Carolina redrew election maps to their liking.
"They have basically set up, on a silver platter, everything that Kennedy could possibly use", Bitzer said.
In 2016, another panel struck down two majority black districts on grounds they were racially discriminatory. "It does more damage".
The state's Republicans are vowing to overturn the ruling.
Governor Roy Cooper is calling for an independent commission to oversee redistricting in the state, claiming Republicans in the state legislature are striking out.
"I can imagine the Republicans being furious, but they have to see political reality, and it's not just in the next two weeks: It's come November", he said. It was in response to then Governor Elbridge Gerry's redrawing of a MA district that was created to elect Democratic-Republicans over Federalists.