NC Primary on Schedule
Special Report - January 25, 2012
A three-judge panel has unanimously declined to delay the filing period and primary election date for North Carolina’s 2012 elections. After an hour of oral arguments on January 20, Wake Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway delivered the panel’s ruling, acknowledging that, "Plaintiffs, in their challenge, have raised serious issues and arguments about, among other things, the extent to which racial classifications were used in the enactment of these plans," but concluding that, “The court is not persuaded that a delay of the primaries … will have any meaningful, practical value or materially aid in protecting the rights asserted by the plaintiffs in the course of this litigation.” Judge Ridgeway emphasized that the ruling does not address the merits of the case, but rather focused exclusively on the technical considerations of delaying the primary.
North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker appointed Judge Ridgeway, Halifax Superior Court Judge Alma Hinton, and Iredell Superior Court Judge Joseph Crosswhite to hear arguments in a case brought by plaintiffs that include current and former Democrat-elected officials, civil-rights and other advocacy groups challenging the new Congressional and legislative district maps. The plaintiffs allege in part that the maps, approved last year by a Republican-controlled legislature, create districts that establish racial classifications in violation of the U.S. and N.C. Constitutions; unnecessarily divide counties in violation of the State Constitution; and divide precincts in violation of state statutes.
In the request considered last week, the plaintiffs sought to have the primary elections for legislative and congressional seats postponed until July 10 and to have the new district maps disallowed for use in any election.
Attorneys for state and legislative leaders maintained that the districts are legal, and that the plaintiffs’ request to postpone some of the primaries would have created confusion by potentially establishing two primary dates with a May primary for the presidential and Council of State races and the Marriage Protection Amendment, followed by a July primary for the General Assembly and Congress. For now, North Carolina candidates will file with the Board of Elections February 13-29, and the State’s primary election will be held on May 8, 2012 with any needed runoffs held on June 26. This ruling can be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court.
In related news, according to the Carolina Journal, also on January 20, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in a similar Texas case, Perry v. Perez, that could potentially impact the North Carolina case, should the State be required to implement interim maps for use in elections while the case is litigated. North Carolina last used interim maps for the 2002 elections, after maps drawn by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly were struck down by a state court, despite earning preclearance from the U.S. Justice Department. In Perry v. Perez, the Supreme Court said, “To the extent the District Court exceeded its mission to draw interim maps that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, and substituted its own concept of ‘the collective public good’ for the Texas Legislature’s determination of which policies serve ‘the interests of the citizens of Texas,’ the court erred.”
Voting Districts Lawsuits Filed - November 8, 2011
Feds Approve NC Voting Districts - November 2, 2011
New District Maps Go To Feds - September 6, 2011
GA Finalizes New Maps - August 3, 2011
Redistricting Special Session Begins - July 13, 2011
New District Maps Unveiled - July 12, 2011
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