Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

GOP mum after special master appointment in racial gerrymandering case

Social media was buzzing yesterday with reactions from everyone but GOP lawmakers after a federal three-judge panel appointed a special master to review and potentially redraw some state House and Senate districts.

The panel announced its intention last week to appoint Stanford Law professor Nathaniel Persily as special master in North Carolina v. Covington but made it official in an order Wednesday overriding lawmakers’ objections.

Legislative leaders who have previously been quick on social media to either commend or criticize judges after court rulings were silent after the order was released.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and redistricting committee co-chairs Re. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) still have yet to comment publicly.

A spokeswoman for Berger, Amy Auth, gave a statement to the News & Observer on behalf of Lewis and Hise. She did not return a request for comment from NC Policy Watch.

“Less than 24 hours after receiving final input from all parties, the court has issued a lengthy order to seize the constitutional and sovereign right to draw districts from North Carolina’s elected representatives and instead hand it to an unelected California college professor with clear conflicts of interest,” she told the newspaper. “We are disturbed the court has apparently planned all along to achieve its preferred political outcome and are reviewing our legal options.”

The North Carolina GOP party also did not return a request for comment about the order.

Allison Riggs, senior attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, reiterated that the court has not yet decided which objections they will sustain, but said they remain hopeful.

“We’re still cautiously optimistic and hopeful this will lead us to finally have fair and constitutional districts for the 2018 elections,” she said.

Democrats responded to the order quickly on social media. Some of their reactions:

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