Plaintiffs File Answers to North Carolina General Assembly Supreme Court Lawsuit Involving Congressional Voting Card

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — The plaintiffs whose lawsuit prompted the new electoral maps under which candidates this week filed nominations filed their responses Wednesday to the objection Republican state lawmakers filed with the United States Supreme Court.

Last Friday, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) et al asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Congressional map approved last week by a 3-judge Wake County Superior Court panel , asserting that the court had no right to draw a map, that it was within the purview of the General Assembly, as established by the North Carolina Constitution.

This Republican-majority Wake County panel employed three former justices as special masters to review corrective maps the state Supreme Court had ordered drawn because lawmakers’ original maps for Congress and Assembly general were deemed unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders designed to isolate if not extend Republican control in Washington and Raleigh.

From left, Superior Court Justices Nathaniel Poovey, Graham Shirley and Dawn Layton listen to testimony during a partisan gerrymandering trial over North Carolina’s new political maps, January 3, 2022, in a courtroom hearing at Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh, North Carolina. Trial judges made additional changes to the map of the North Carolina congressional district on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, ruling that the latest U.S. House redistricting made by the General Assembly does not meet standards of partisan fairness recently established by the State Supreme Court. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

The Special Masters approved the maps that lawmakers drew for the State House and Senate, but “modified” the map for Congress, citing in their ruling that lawmakers were responsible for drawing the maps and they simply adjusted some districts. All of these maps have been appealed by all parties – the League of Conservation Voters of North Carolina, Common Cause, a group of Harper et al voters (the three plaintiffs) – and Republicans in the General Assembly .

The state Supreme Court dismissed those appeals last week, signed into law the maps, and the candidate resumed his candidacy on Friday. Hundreds have submitted their documents for everything from the US Senate to municipal races.

The federal lawsuit filed by lawmakers asked judges to step in and halt the election process. Nominations close Friday at noon and the primary is scheduled for May 17. The court could make a decision today.

The three plaintiffs in the case have filed motions to argue against the complaint filed by lawmakers. Each has a slightly different approach and different sites, but all focus on the precedent of various federal decisions and the timing of that consideration so late in the election calendar.

The 52-page response submitted by the NCLCV opened with an argument that observers might have expected: to accept this case and rule in favor of lawmakers, the court would have to overturn “at least half a dozen of its decisions, spanning a century. most recently, last month, an election ruling in Alabama in which judges overturned a lower court because they said it was too deep in the election cycle.

Common Cause and the Harper plaintiffs both brought Rucho v. Common Cause, in which in 2019 the Supreme Court upheld North Carolina’s new electoral map and said those matters were for state courts.

Each response includes many previous SCOUTUS decisions on issues related to states controlling their own gerrymandering decisions. Courts in various states have recently attempted to address these issues, and a similar appeal from Pennsylvania was also filed with SCOTUS last week. In total, the NCLCV response cites some 62 prior lawsuits, including Gore against Bush and Nixon against the United States.

The NCLCV’s response boils down to three things: that the late appeal to the court disrupted the process and timing of filing the election, that any argument regarding the electoral cause was ineffective and without merit, and that to accept this argument from lawmakers, it it would take the court to overturn many of the decisions it had already made and thus change the processes in the states across the country.

Common Cause also claims that the lawmakers’ argument came too late and without legal basis. The Harper Group also claims that the Orders in Council drafted by the General Assembly give the courts the right to review redistricting and that Scot has set a precedent on numerous occasions.

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