Feb. 9, 2016 — Late Friday afternoon a federal three-judge panel sitting in Raleigh invalidated two North Carolina congressional districts even after absentee ballots had been issued throughout the state and votes are being cast. The North Carolina state primary is being held concurrently with the presidential vote on March 15. The court has ordered the state legislature to redraw the map by Feb. 19 so that the primary can move forward as scheduled.
The court, in ruling on a case filed more than a year ago, has thrown the primary campaigns into chaos. Republicans will immediately file a motion to stay the ruling with the US Supreme Court, but the identical move in Virginia was rejected on Feb. 1 in a similar case. The Virginia primary, however, is not until June 14, and that state has the option of choosing nominees in a convention format.
The North Carolina panel ruled that Districts 1 (Rep. G.K. Butterworth, D-Wilson) and 12 (Rep. Alma Adams, D-Greensboro) are unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering. The judges stated that the legislative map drawers did not “narrowly tailor” the districts as they sought to comply with the Voting Rights Act.