It would be fundamentally unjust and contrary to the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents to grant North Carolina’s request to halt a lower court’s order for special elections this year with newly-drawn legislative district maps, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Raleigh attorneys Edwin Speas Jr., Caroline Mackie and Anita Earls, from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, filed a response Monday to the state’s emergency application for stay to halt the special elections pending an appeal to the high court.
Chief Justice John Roberts requested the response last week. It’s unknown when a decision will be made in the case, but the original application asks for an order by Wednesday, when the General Assembly returns to Raleigh for the long session.
In it’s 41-page response in opposition to the stay, the plaintiffs are described as individual voters living in “bizarrely-shaped legislative districts that divide them from their neighbors based solely on the color of their skin.” It states that they filed suit in May 2015, 18 months before the general election in 2016, that they sought a preliminary injunction that was denied and asked the trial court to rule in time to implement new districts for the general election, which did not occur.
When the district court did rule in August 2016, the court made clear it would be considering additional relief even though it would allow the regularly scheduled elections in November 2016 to continue using the unconstitutional districts. After allowing the parties two rounds of post-trial briefing on the question of an appropriate remedy and the timing of that remedy, the district court issued the order the State now appeals.
In these circumstances, it would be fundamentally unjust, and contrary to this Court’s precedents, to stay the district court’s unanimous and well-reasoned remedial order requiring the state of North Carolina to put an end to its unconstitutional use of race in redistricting. There is no justification for further perpetuating the extraordinary harm of using race-based districts to elect representatives in a system that as earned the state the reputation of being ‘not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.’
The state’s request for an emergency stay ignores the prolonged harms to voters and the general public, the document states. The state’s request also grossly exaggerates the impact of the remedial order to hold special elections, it states.
Granting the stay requested here would establish the perverse rule that voters aggrieved by the unconstitutional use of race in redistricting must file suit more than 18 months before the next general election to obtain any relief and even then, must endure at least one additional election cycle using unconstitutional districts while the appellate process is underway. Given that redistricting plans are only in place for five election cycles, such an outcome would mean that justice delayed is justice denied. The extraordinary relief of a stay pending appeal is not warranted in this case.
This is just a snippet of the response. You can read the court document in full here.