A coalition of left-leaning activists and groups are hoping a federal appeals court will revive their lawsuit challenging the state’s new election maps for the Wake County school board and Board of Commissioners.
The Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed an appeal Monday challenging the February decision by U.S. Chief District Court Judge James C. Dever III to dismiss the suit. At issue are the new lines that the Republican-led General Assembly drew up that are scheduled to be used in this fall’s elections for Wake school board and commissioners.
Dever had ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to show that the General Assembly’s lines for Wake County violated the one-person, one-vote requirement in the federal and state constitutions. Dever also ruled that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the General Assembly racially gerrymandered the lines for the district covering Southeast Raleigh.
But the plaintiffs, which include the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association and Wake County Democratic Party officials and activists, hope the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will see the case from a different perspective.
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A three-judge appellate panel had previously ruled on behalf of the plaintiffs in May, sending the case back to a trial court after it reversed the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle to dismiss the lawsuit.
Under the new lines, voters would pick one school board member and one commissioner from the district they live in and one from each body in a newly created super-regional district. One regional district would largely represent central Raleigh and the other would represent the suburbs.
Plaintiffs had contended that the new lines were unduly drawn in a way to create 5-4 Republican majorities on the school board and commissioners. Democrats currently hold majorities on both boards.
All nine school board seats are scheduled to be on the November ballot. Five members of the newly expanded nine-seat board of commissioners will also be on this year’s ballot.