New North Carolina state Senate districts remain in place after judge refuses to block their use


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A judge refused Friday to block the use of two North Carolina The lawsuit seeks to order the Senate districts drawn by Republican legislators and replace them with boundaries starting in the 2024 elections, which the plaintiffs argue would make it more likely that Black voters would elect preferred candidates in one of them.

US District Judge James Dever denies preliminary injunction requested by two black residents A lawsuit was filed over Senate districts in November, Accusations of racial bias. They argue that GOP legislative leaders potentially violated the federal Voting Rights Act by creating two districts so that black voters in northeastern counties would be split between the two.

The plaintiffs proposed redistricting districts, one of which would have a black voting age population of approximately 50% or slightly higher, depending on the counting method. Enacted by the General Assembly to have the Black voting age population close to 30% in each district.

Dever, whom President George W. Bush and who was once a redistricting attorney, wrote that no evidence was presented before him or the General Assembly that the area needed a majority-black state Senate district.

And the principle that courts should not change election rules so close to an election applies here as activity gets underway for the March 5 primary, Dever wrote. While there are no primary challengers for the 1st and 2nd Senate Districts seats, attorneys for GOP legislators have argued that granting the injunction could require redrawing several other districts, some with primaries.

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“The Court rejects Plaintiffs’ invitation to issue the requested extraordinary, mandatory preliminary injunction and thereby prevent and thereby create voter confusion and chaos in the 2024 Senate elections in North Carolina,” Dever wrote in a 69-page order.

Their lawyers, plaintiffs Rodney Pierce of Halifax County and Moses Matthews of Martin County, immediately filed their notice Friday to appeal the verdict to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Each Senate seat is critical for Republicans as they seek to retain their veto-proof majority in the House. They currently have 30 of the 50 seats — the minimum needed to override a veto if the GOP caucus remains united. The two current senators representing the area are white Republicans. Ultimately, a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would ensure that the Democrats would win one seat.

Both voters argue that black voters, a politically cohesive unit within the state’s “Black Belt” region, will not have the opportunity to elect a preferred candidate in any district because of racially polarized voting in favor of majority-white residents. Those who vote in blocks.

Dever agreed with lawyers for GOP legislators that previous rulings in recent North Carolina redistricting litigation have concluded that voting is not racially polarized at legally significant levels to justify districts like the plaintiffs’. Senate Republicans said they did not use racial data drawing chamber districts in decline.

Pierce and Matthews have said action is needed by early February to allow for new districts to be drawn and a potential primary election to be held in mid-May, when any runoffs from the March primaries will take place.

Pierce and Matthews live in another district, which spans more than 160 miles. Virginia Range to parts of the Atlantic coastline. His lawyers wrote that it would be relatively easy to draw a compact majority-black district that would ensure that minority voters would not be disenfranchised.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein are not named in the lawsuit, but they have filed briefs with the court supporting the preliminary injunction.

Republicans implemented new lines in October for all state Senate and House districts and the state’s 14 U.S. House seats for use during the 2030 elections. At least two other lawsuits It has been filed alleging that the boundaries are an illegal racial gerrymander. But in neither case are the plaintiffs aggressively trying to block the maps’ use in the 2024 election cycle.

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