Following a hearing this morning, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles has preliminarily blocked implementation of the Greensboro redistricting plan rammed though the General Assembly in early July.
That plan would have fundamentally changed the city’s form of government and shifted its city council voting lines — overpopulating minority districts and pitting incumbents there against each other for municipal elections this fall.
Eagles found that the plan likely violated state and U.S. constitutions:
Here, the General Assembly passed the Act on the eve of the filing period with no advance notice of the boundaries of the reapportioned districts, there is no evidence of a legitimate state interest that is protected by treating the City of Greensboro and its voters differently from all other municipalities and municipal voters in the State, and Greensboro voters are disadvantaged by the State’s classification of them as unentitled to the referendum protections given to other municipal voters. With no rational basis, and especially when considered in light of the significantly different treatment above and beyond the referendum issue, this unequal treatment of Greensboro voters likely violates their equal protection rights.
Pursuant to the judge’s order, here, city council elections in Greensboro this fall will proceed under the provisions of prior law. Specifically:
Elections for Greensboro City Council will take place using the electoral districts, method of election, and form of government that existed prior to the enactment of Session Law 2015-138. Specifically, five council members will be elected to each represent a single district as those districts existed on July 1, 2015, three council members will be elected at-large, and the mayor will be elected at-large. Terms will last for two years.
Elections will proceed under the nonpartisan primary and election method of voting set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-294. 3. The filing period for elections for Greensboro City Council will open at 12:00 P.M. on July 27, 2015, and close at 12:00 P.M. on August 7, 2015.
For more on how the new plan became law and what it would mean for Greensboro, read here.