NC judges create their own congressional map, uphold legislative maps

This decision is expected to be appealed back to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
A panel of trial judges has made additional changes to North Carolina’s congressional district...
A panel of trial judges has made additional changes to North Carolina’s congressional district map.(WBTV)
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 1:44 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2022 at 4:05 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WBTV) - A panel of trial judges has made additional changes to North Carolina’s congressional district map.

The three judges ruled Wednesday that the latest U.S. House redistricting performed by the General Assembly fails to meet standards of partisan fairness set recently by the state Supreme Court, so they made some adjustments.

The judges did uphold state House and Senate maps the legislature approved last week.

The North Carolina General Assembly draws three maps every ten years, after each census - the NC House districts, NC Senate districts and US Congressional districts.

Related: 3-judge panel rules to allow Republican-drawn N.C. redistricting maps to move forward

The maps drawn by the NCGA in late 2021 based on the 2020 census were challenged by three outside groups - all of them tired to Democrats and/or liberal causes, saying the maps gave Republicans an unfair advantage.

The NC Supreme Court had declared congressional and legislative maps enacted in November were illegal partisan gerrymanders that had to be redrawn. The NC Supreme Court said they gave Republicans an unfair advantage.

Related: NC Supreme Court rules legislative and congressional maps as unconstitutional gerrymanders

The Court issued mathematical criteria any new maps would have to meet.

After the NC Supreme Court’s ruling, the case went back to the trial court. The trial court gave the NCGA two weeks to draw new maps.

The trial court also appointed a panel of three retired judges to serve as “special masters”, outside advisers who do work for the court.

The NCGA passed new maps. The special masters also submitted news maps, along with maps drawn by the plaintiffs.

Related: Congressional maps: North Carolina Senate map passes, goes to NC House for consideration

Earlier this month, the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down redrawn legislative and congressional maps as unconstitutional gerrymanders.

On Wednesday, that three-judge panel of trial judges adopted the NC House and NC Senate maps passed by the NCGA and adopted a congressional map drawn by the special masters.

Barring a legal stay, candidate filing resumes Thursday morning using the new boundaries for the May 17 primary. North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore says the state House will appeal the decision.

Related: N.C. governor, AG urge state Supreme Court to ensure fair elections in redistricting cases

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted a statement Wednesday, strongly criticizing the decision.

“Today’s decision allows a blatantly unfair and unconstitutional State Senate map that may have been the worst of the bunch. that is bad for North Carolina because it strips voters of their voice in our democracy. Our elections should not go forward until we have fair, constitutional maps,” Gov. Cooper said.

“The trial court’s decision to impose a new map drawn by anyone other than the legislature is simply unconstitutional... I will appeal this ruling with respect to the congressional map immediately on behalf of the voters,” House Speaker Tim Moore said Wednesday.

North Carolina Democrats say they are disappointed in the three-judge panel’s decision to approve the legislative Republican’s state Senate map.

This ongoing legal battle has majorly delayed state candidate filing and the primaries that were originally supposed to happen in a few weeks.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WBTV contributed to this story.