Remember when Common Cause, the North Carolina Democratic Party and a group of voter sued lawmakers over partisan gerrymandering of the state legislative maps — and won?
Well, the group just had another win in federal court. Lawmakers had asked the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court’s order that didn’t allow them to transfer the case from state to federal court — even though the lawsuit alleged state constitutional wrongdoings.
The underlying case was decided last year by a three-judge panel from Wake County Superior Court, which ruled the districts were illegally gerrymandered for partisan gain, violating the State Constitution. They ordered new districts be drawn, which were used in the recent primary and will be used again in the upcoming election.
The 4th Circuit three-judge panel presiding over the related appellate case released their opinion today after January arguments in Richmond. The judges are Judge Roger Gregory, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz — both appointed by former President Bill Clinton — and Judge Julius Richardson, a President Donald Trump appointee.
“To support their removal, the legislators claimed, among other reasons, that they possess an enforcement role with respect to state laws,” the ruling states of one of the main arguments before them. “We disagree and conclude that they have failed to explain why they are enforcement officers.” The other argument before the judges had to do with the lower court declining to award the plaintiffs in the case fees and costs, and they agreed with that decision. Read the full order below.