Election fairness called into question in lawsuit targeting predominantly Black voting precincts
A recent lawsuit filed in North Carolina alleges that the General Assembly unfairly targeted predominantly Black voting precincts in the state’s redistricting plans. The lawsuit claims that the 2023 Plans were enacted to diminish the ability of Black voters to elect candidates of their choice. The plaintiffs argue that the new districts violated the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act, and another law.
Urgency to Address the Issue
The plaintiffs are requesting that the maps be thrown out before the upcoming elections. However, with candidate filing already closed and primary absentee ballots to be distributed soon, it may prove challenging to make significant changes at this stage. The lawsuit insists that remedial maps be enacted no later than the 2026 general election to address the alleged injustices.
Extensive Legal Battle
This lawsuit is the latest and most comprehensive legal challenge filed by voters since the General Assembly implemented new maps in October. These maps, created by the Republican-dominated assembly, aim to solidify GOP influence in the state for years to come. The plaintiffs primarily focus on four congressional districts, nine state Senate districts, and approximately 20 state House districts. Most of these districts are located in northeastern counties with a significant percentage of Black residents, who make up more than 22% of the state’s population.
Earlier this month, a separate lawsuit targeted the new congressional districts, alleging racial gerrymandering. Another lawsuit claimed that two state Senate districts in eastern North Carolina violated the Voting Rights Act by failing to create a majority-Black district. The plaintiffs in the state Senate litigation have requested a federal judge to rule promptly on blocking the use of the districts in the upcoming primary elections.
If the current maps are upheld, Republicans are likely to secure at least ten of the state’s 14 congressional seats and maintain majorities in the state Senate and House in the next elections. These maps were designed to favor GOP candidates and are expected to remain in use until 2030. Democrats and Republicans each won seven seats under the previous congressional map, but the new boundaries could help Republicans maintain control of the U.S. House well into 2025.
Legal Focus on Racial Bias
While opponents argue that the new maps aim to benefit Republicans at the expense of Democrats, recent court rulings have restricted claims of illegal partisan gerrymandering. As a result, legal challenges to North Carolina’s redistricting plans have largely centered around accusations of racial bias. The current lawsuit is one of three that have been filed against the latest boundaries.
A panel of three judges, all nominated by Republican presidents, will preside over the congressional redistricting case. U.S. Circuit Judge Allison Rushing, along with District Judges Thomas Schroeder and Richard Myers, will consider the claims made by the plaintiffs.