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Three-judge panel to consider mid-decade redistricting today

Today, a three-judge panel will hear arguments about whether lawmakers violated a state law against mid-decade redistricting when they redrew districts that weren’t ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

The North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters of NC, Democracy NC, the A. Philip Randolph Institute of NC and four individual plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of four state House districts in Wake County.

The same districts were challenged in the racial gerrymandering case, North Carolina v. Covington, based on a state constitution prohibition on mid-decade redistricting — lawmakers were accused of redrawing districts they didn’t have to during a court-ordered remedial map-making process.

A special master redrew those districts and the U.S. District Court ordered they be used in this year’s elections, but the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the districts, likely because they involved issues of state law, not federal law.

The three-judge panel — Judges Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite and Alma Hinton — already denied a preliminary injunction in the case. The hearing today is for a summary judgement.

The plaintiffs are asking the panel of judges to agree that the unnecessary redrawing of the four districts violate the state constitution’s ban on mid-decade redistricting and order the previous districts be used in the 2020 election.

Legislative defendants argue that when a court order triggers new redistricting, the state constitution contains no limits on lawmakers’ ability to modify districts.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. at Campbell University School of Law.

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