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Federal court: Partisan gerrymandering challenge can remain in state court

A federal court Wednesday refused to take a partisan gerrymandering case after GOP legislative leaders asked to have it removed from state court.

U.S. District Court Judge Louise Flanagan, a George W. Bush appointee in the eastern district of North Carolina, wrote in her order that she would release a memorandum opinion at a later time explaining the decision.

Common Cause, the North Carolina Democratic Party and a group of individual voters filed a lawsuit toward the end of last year in Wake County Superior Court challenging the redrawn 2017 maps used in the midterm election.

Partisan gerrymandering issues in North Carolina have most commonly been battled in federal court, though without resolution. The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, for example, will consider calendaring another Common Cause (and League of Women Voter’s) case on partisan gerrymandering for argument.

But that doesn’t mean partisan gerrymandering doesn’t also violate the state constitution, which is what the latest lawsuit takes on.

Legislative leaders initially approached the U.S. District Court asking it to take the case from state jurisdiction. They claimed the plaintiffs demand and theories of relief created direct conflicts with federal law guaranteeing equal protection.

The plaintiffs responded with an emergency motion put jurisdiction solely with the state court.

“Legislative Defendants’ notice of removal is an egregious and transparent attempt to delay and derail state court proceedings in this case of extraordinary public importance,” the motion states. “There is no plausible, good-faith basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction here, and the attempted removal is procedurally defective on its face.”

They also asked the federal court to make the state defendants incur the costs of the proceedings, but Flanagan declined to do so. Read her initial order below:



Motion Granted Common Cause (Text)

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