North Carolina Republican legislative leaders asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to block enforcement of an order throwing out the state's congressional map because the lines were too partisan and directing a redraw nearly immediately.
Lawyers for legislative leaders filed a request Thursday asking a three-judge panel to delay enforcement of their ruling filed this week directing lawmakers approve a new map by January 24.
A three-judge panel struck down North Carolina's congressional map this week, a decision that state Republicans vowed to challenge and could have long-term effects on the redistricting practice known as gerrymandering, election experts say.
The motion says there's also not enough time for the judges to review a new map before candidate filing begins February 12.
Phil Strach, the Raleigh-based attorney representing Republican lawmakers in the partisan gerrymandering case, stated in his 22-page request for an emergency stay on the order issued Tuesday that a three-judge panel "has used an entirely novel legal theory to hopelessly disrupt North Carolina's upcoming congressional elections".
An appeal would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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In a similar case in Pennsylvania, a divided three-judge panel Wednesday rejected partisan gerrymandering claims involving the state's congressional districts. The evidence showed the "plan achieved the General Assembly's discriminatory partisan objective", U.S. Circuit Judge Jim Wynn wrote in the case's chief opinion. Candidate filing opens February 12 and runs through the end of the month. He even said, "I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it's possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats".
They request a ruling from the highest court by January 22.
A group of Democratic voters had originally filed a lawsuit saying the map should be thrown out because the lawmakers who created the map in 2011, gerrymandered it to help Republicans.
Indeed, a year after the redistricting, Republicans captured only a minority of the statewide vote - 48.6 percent - but, as they had privately predicted, they still won 60 of the 99 state legislative seats, while the Democrats, who had won a majority of the vote, captured a mere 39 seats.
But the process of court approval for any new maps is not scheduled to be finished until after the filing period is scheduled to start.