As the old year drew to a close and new one was about to begin, North Carolina Republicans, filed an “emergency motion” with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that special elections slated for the state in 2017 be declared null and void.
The special elections were ordered for the state after a federal court determined last year that over a quarter of its districts had been redrawn illegally, claiming that they were “racially gerrymandered.” The deadline for redrawing the districts is March 15 of this year with special elections to follow later in the year.
Attorneys for North Carolina’s GOP in submitting the petition called the court’s claims “erroneous,” “highly debatable” and “so obviously wrong.”
Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California-Irvine, posting on the Election Law Blog, commented that the object of the petition is fairly obvious. “The goal here,” he writes, “is to preserve as much Republican power in the state as possible despite the election of a Democratic governor, attorney general and a new majority in the State Supreme Court.”
Currently, as the result of their gerrymandering tactics, North Carolina Republicans have a veto-proof super majority and they would like to keep it that way. If voters have another opportunity to vote with re-drawn districts that more fairly represent the state, the GOP could lose that.
Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at UNC, says the petition is about politics. “It fits into the pattern of the legislative leadership and outgoing governor (Pat McCrory) trying to box Cooper in.”
Along those same lines, before lame-duck governor McCrory left office last week he signed into law a number of bills taking away the newly-elected governor’s powers. Among those was a law designed to take away his authority in making appointments to the state elections board. The incoming governor, Roy Cooper, responded with a lawsuit regarding the elections board law labeling it unconstitutional. A Wake County Superior Court judge has put a temporary hold on that law until the court can review it further later this week.
Cooper’s legal team says more lawsuits against the state’s GOP leadership will follow.
Regarding the NC GOP’s special petition, Rick Hasen says it “seems unlikely to succeed.”
Let’s hope so.