On Friday U.S. District Court Judge James C. Dever denied a request to redraw NC Senate maps due to racial gerrymandering in northeastern North Carolina. In his ruling, he said that the plaintiffs did not adequately prove that Black votes are being diluted according to a three-part Supreme Court test, and he said that there is not enough time to redraw maps before elections in the fall. The plaintiffs, two Black voters from the region, are appealing to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Thursday three Democratic members of Congress representing different areas of the Triangle called on Congress to pass a bill to improve transparency in the redistricting process, with the ultimate goal of limiting gerrymandering. The bill would require state legislators to hold hearings before and after new maps are chosen and to make publicly available all iterations of the maps as well as all records of public comment.
On Friday an NAACP lawsuit that challenges the validity of two N.C. constitutional amendments on the basis that the gerrymandered state legislature is illegitimate began moving through the courts again. In 2022, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the NAACP, but the court’s ruling called for the case to go back to trial to answer additional questions. The case challenges a voter ID amendment and an amendment that caps income tax rates, arguing that since these were added to ballots by a state legislature elected through racially gerrymandered maps that were subsequently deemed unconstitutional, they are not valid. Lawyers for both sides met Friday with a three-judge panel to set a schedule for the trial.
Last weekend a federal judge struck down part of a new elections law passed by N.C. Republicans. Chief Judge Thomas Schroeder of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled that a provision that would throw out ballots of same-day voting registrants if a confirmation-of-address mailing to the voter is returned as undeliverable “imposes a substantial burden” on voters and makes it too likely that legitimate votes would be thrown out
On Wednesday a new committee to review State Bar disciplinary rules met for the first time at the state legislature. The Bar is responsible for overseeing the state’s lawyers and, if necessary, disciplining them for unethical or unprofessional conduct. Some committee members, all but one of whom are Republicans, spoke about fears of “cancel culture” impacting the State Bar’s processes. Suggestions for changes to regulations included allowing disciplined members to remove their disciplinary record from public access and erasing an attorney’s disciplinary records after they die.