Group: Request for redistricting rehearing ‘frivolous’

Published 8:11 am Sunday, February 5, 2023

An advocacy group that sued over redistricting lines in North Carolina told state Supreme Court justices Monday that previous rulings that blocked legislative and congressional district maps as illegal partisan gerrymanders should be left intact.

Common Cause filed a response to Republican General Assembly leaders’ request earlier this month that the state’s highest court rehear redistricting lawsuits.

In December, when a majority of the seven justices were registered Democrats, the court struck down a state Senate map the legislature drew and upheld congressional boundaries drawn by trial judges but opposed by Republicans. The rulings stemmed from a similar 4-3 decision in February 2022 that declared GOP legislators violated the state constitution by approving lines that deprived Democrats of voting power substantially equal to their support in the state.

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Republican legislators argue no such contingency is found in the constitution. With the GOP winning November judicial elections and achieving a majority on the court, Republican legislators asked the court to reconsider those decisions.

Hilary Klein, an attorney for Common Cause, wrote that the rehearing petition is “frivolous.” She referred specifically to House Speaker Tim Moore’s public statement that another look at the cases was needed because the “people of North Carolina sent a message election day” to reject the ruling of the “outgoing (judicial) majority.”

The petition “is therefore motivated by improper purpose and grossly lacking in the requirements of propriety,” Klein wrote.

Common Cause was one of many plaintiffs in the redistricting lawsuits.

Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger also have separately asked for a rehearing of another Supreme Court decision last month that invalidated a 2018 law requiring photo identification to vote. The GOP leaders contend the proper legal standard was not applied.