Lawmakers will hear public comment on Congressional maps tomorrow

Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston) chats with Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) during a Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting meeting. (Photo by Melissa Boughton)

Congressional redistricting at the North Carolina legislature appears to be nearing an end, and the public will have their chance to weigh in Wednesday.

The General Assembly announced today that it would hold a public hearing on its new maps at 10 a.m. Wednesday in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building. Up to 60 members of the public can sign up online to speak in person for up to two minutes, according to the legislature’s website. The cut-off to sign up is 5 p.m. today.

Individuals can also submit online comments about the maps currently being drafted. Lawmakers are expected to complete the drawing phase of remedial redistricting at noon today and related documents will be posted online.

A court didn’t order lawmakers to draw new Congressional maps, but it enjoined the use of the 2016 plan based on preliminary arguments in Harper v. Lewis that it unconstitutionally benefited Republicans. The three-judge panel encouraged lawmakers to start remedial redistricting in the interest of time, because ongoing litigation could mean they have to move the 2020 primaries.

Candidates filing for Congressional races is currently set to begin Dec. 2. It’s not yet clear if the maps lawmakers enact will serve as the final maps for the 2020 election.

At the same time litigation over the 2016 plan is ongoing, there is pending federal litigation over the three-judge panel’s enjoining of the map because of how closely timed it is to the election, and particularly candidate filing. A hearing has not yet been set in Brewster v. Berger, but district court Judge Louise Wood Flanagan was appointed to preside over the case.

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