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Supreme Court denies request for stay in redistricting case

gavThe state supreme court yesterday denied the request by plaintiffs in the redistricting case to stay election deadlines in February and beyond while the court reviews the merits of the redistricting plan.

Plaintiffs had specifically referenced the February 2014 opening of the filing period for the 2014 elections to the General Assembly and U. S. House of Representatives. That filing period is scheduled to end on February 28, with primary elections scheduled for May 6.

The Court had, during previous redistricting battles, agreed to suspend election deadlines while the justices considered the merits of the plans before them. As plaintiffs noted in their papers requesting the stay:

Temporarily delaying the impending 2014 filing period and the 6 May 2014 primaries until prospective candidates and election officials know with certainty the configuration of the election districts would be significantly less disruptive to candidates and election officials and less confusing to the public than in 2002 in Stephenson v. Bartlett where this Court stayed the May primary elections after the filing period had already closed and the campaigns had begun

Delaying the 2014 filing period and primaries to the extent necessary to allow the Court adequate time to resolve the constitutional validity of the 2011 legislative and congressional redistricting plans will have significantly less impact on the 2014 elections process than did this Court’s Order in 2002 not only because the 2002 order halted the process after it began, but also because an order entered now will allow significantly more time for redistricting if necessary than in 2002. Oral arguments in Stephenson were held on 4 April 2002, about three months later in the elections process than the 6 January 2014 arguments in these cases. Additionally, in 2002, the Defendants were forbidden to implement any change in the legislative redistricting plans without obtaining prior federal approval, a process that often required as much as three additional months, a requirement that no longer applies to the 2014 elections as a consequence of the United States Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v Holder, 570 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013). Thus, there is considerably more time now as compared to 2002 and consequently substantially less disruption if an order is entered now staying the filing period and primary elections.

Yesterday’s order was entered without any opinion from the court.

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