On Tuesday North Carolina’s Supreme Court heard arguments from parties in a recent gerrymandering suit who are unhappy with the way a trial judge panel handled redrawn maps for state legislative and congressional districts based on NC Supreme Court guidelines. The NC Supreme Court had previously decided on behalf of the plaintiffs, including Common Cause, striking down maps on the basis of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. The plaintiffs are arguing that the new state legislative maps that were approved by the trial court for use in this year’s election don’t meet the standards set in the NC Supreme Court ruling. Republicans in the NCGA are arguing that the trial court erred in rejecting their redrawn U.S. House map and replacing it with their own temporary map for this year’s election. They argue that redistricting power lies with the state legislature rather than the courts, mirroring arguments for the “independent state legislature” theory currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Any decision the court makes will not affect this year’s elections but may require NC General Assembly maps to be redrawn again for future elections.
On Monday the North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in a case about the voter ID law passed in North Carolina in 2018. The law was struck down last year in a 2-1 decision by a panel of Superior Court judges, who said the law was intended to unconstitutionally target African-American voters. The NC Supreme Court heard the case on appeal.
On Friday Governor Cooper announced that next month he will sign an executive order extending the work of the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. He praised the work of the group thus far, which has focused on making significant recommendations for ways to improve racial equity in the criminal justice system in North Carolina, including some that legislators have passed into law (such as raising the minimum age of juvenile jurisdiction and banning the shackling of pregnant women). NC Policy Watch reported that “The task force’s next phase of its work will focus on four areas: violence prevention including youth crime reduction and restorative justice; local law enforcement practices and accountability; judicial system policies and practices that result in equitable outcomes; and collection, analysis and dissemination of criminal justice system data.”