As expected, on a straight party-line vote, the North Carolina Supreme Court found the congressional and state legislative districts drawn by the Republican state legislature unconstitutional.

The vote on the NC Supreme Court was 4-3 with all four Democratic justices voting in favor of overturning the districts because they were overly partisan and the three Republican justices voting against it.

The dissent by Chief Justice Paul Newby is scathing and notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has never struck down a partisan gerrymander as unconstitutional – despite various requests over the past 45 years – and adds, “By choosing to hold that partisan gerrymandering violates the North Carolina Constitution and by devising its own remedies, there appears to be no limit to this Court’s power.”

Newby also notes that the decision of the majority fails to advise the legislature on how it can redistrict in a manner that is constitutional.  Newby states, “The question of how much partisan consideration is unconstitutional remains a mystery, as does what is meant by substantially equal voting power on the basis of partisan affiliation.’ Any discretionary decisions constitutionally committed to the General Assembly in the redistricting process have now been transferred to the Court.”

He states, “Ironically, the majority claims the General Assembly should not subordinate traditional neutral redistricting criteria to partisan considerations, but its litmus test of constitutionality requires a satisfactory partisanship analysis.  In fact, only a satisfactory partisanship analysis makes a plan constitutional.  But, the Court provides no guidance as to what constitutes an acceptable partisanship analysis.”

The ruling gives the state legislature until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18 to submit new maps to the trial court and states, “The trial court will approve or adopt compliant congressional and state legislative districting plans no later than noon on 23 February 2022.  Any emergency application for a stay pending appeal must be filed no later than 23 February 2022.”

According to the current schedule, filing for the 2022 election will reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 24 and close at noon on Friday, March 4.

The statewide primary is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17.