Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Plaintiffs: Supreme Court should not allow GOP to enjoy fruits of unconstitutional actions in another election

The plaintiffs in a partisan gerrymandering case asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday not to grant lawmakers’ request to stay an order requiring them to redraw the 2016 congressional map.

“Applicants pay lip service to concerns such as State sovereignty and administrative inconvenience,” wrote attorneys for Common Cause NC, one of the plaintiffs. “But their true motive is as plain as day: the Republican contingent of the legislature wants to enjoy the fruits of their grossly unconstitutional actions for yet another election cycle. That is not a proper reason to seek a stay, let alone grant one.”

A federal three-judge panel ruled last week that GOP lawmakers disenfranchised voters by unconstitutionally using partisan gerrymandering to create a map that would result in the election of 10 Republican congressional candidates and three Democratic ones.

Legislative defendants asked the judges to stay their ruling, which they denied, and asked for the Supreme Court to step in. They stated in their request that the three-judge panel used a “novel legal theory to hopelessly disrupt North Carolina’s upcoming congressional elections.”

Attorneys for the League of Women Voters, another plaintiff in the two cases that were rolled into one trial, argued that lawmakers have not shown that the lower court’s decision was made erroneously and previously told the court that redistricting at this juncture before an election would not be overly burdensome.

“Third, appellants motion should be denied because, if remedial proceedings are stayed, North Carolina’s voters will likely be condemned to a fourth consecutive election under an unconstitutional congressional map,” their motion states.

Similarly, attorneys for Common Cause wrote that a stay would harm the pubic more broadly.

“Not only is there a strong public interest in constitutionally drawn legislative districts, but moreover, a stay would tend to legitimize the flagrant partisan abuses of the North Carolina legislature — abuses that have continued now for almost a decade — and would invite legislatures across the nation to follow suit,” their motion states. “The Court should not signal that it will reward gamesmanship and obstinacy, especially when fundamental constitutional rights are at stake.”

Both motions address lawmakers’ argument that this case can’t be decided until a partisan gerrymandering case out of Wisconsin is decided, Gill v. Whitford. Plaintiffs note that the facts of the North Carolina case are different and egregious enough to stand on their own — “the evidence of unconstitutionality is even stronger here.”

If the Supreme Court does grant a stay, both plaintiffs ask for an expedited schedule so as to allow a remedy to be implemented this year. You can read the Common Cause motion here and the League of Women Voters motion here.

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