NC redistricting lines go before judges

ablythe@newsobserver.comFebruary 24, 2013 

A three-judge panel is set to hear arguments Monday and Tuesday on whether new boundaries for North Carolina legislative and congressional districts should be thrown out or upheld.

The Superior Court judges have scheduled arguments in a courtroom at Campbell University law school for lawsuits filed by Democrats and representatives from a coalition of advocacy groups challenging the 2011 maps. The litigants contend the maps are unlawful because black voters are concentrated in districts that reduce their overall political power.

The legal complaint has gone unheard for months while the state Supreme Court considered whether documents provided to the GOP-led legislature that drew the maps were public documents subject to public scrutiny. The state’s highest court ruled in January that the documents were a protected work product and not public documents.

That ruling set the stage for the hearings before three judges. Each side has asked the panel to rule in their favor without a jury trial.

Redistricting occurs every 10 years based on the national Census. The Republicans, who in 2010 took control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century, used their newfound power to draw districts that appear to improve their party’s chances in future elections.

However the judges rule, political observers say they expect appeals from the losing side to take the case back to the state Supreme Court.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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