Oral argument in the North Carolina Superior Court in Harper v. Hall
The North Carolina Supreme Court heard hearings in the rare and much-anticipated rerun of Harper v. Hall Tuesday, a local gerrymandering challenge that may mean an overhaul of US electoral practices. By taking the unusual step of granting a repeat hearing, the Tar Heel State Supreme Court may have delayed much broader action by the US Supreme Court.
Court conservatives also flexed their political muscles after the 2022 election turned their balance from Democratic to Republican.
In February 2022, when the North Carolina Supreme Court had a 4-3 Democrat majority, it scrapped the district maps in a narrow ruling, finding that the maps unlawfully discriminated against. Now the court has a 5-2 Republican majority and is reconsidering that finding.
The dispute over North Carolina’s congressional tickets sparked not only litigation in state court, but also a much broader dispute in the Supreme Court. In the relevant federal case Moore vs. Harper, North Carolina Republicans challenged the “independent state legislature” theory and asked the US Supreme Court to consider whether North Carolina courts have the authority to interfere in district maps. Tar Heel State Republicans argue that courts have no authority to challenge legislative decisions on congressional tickets.
Judges heard hearings on the matter in early December but have not yet ruled on the case.
During Tuesday’s hour-long hearing in a state court, only Justices Richard Dietz, Trey Allen and Chief Justice Paul Newby (all Republicans, who were in the minority of three last year) questioned Lali Madduri, who represented the plaintiffs.
Newby asked Madduri how lawmakers and judges should interpret various metrics to measure partisan fairness and indicated that he felt the judiciary was ill-equipped for such a task.
Phil Strach, the attorney representing the Republican legislature, criticized the plaintiffs for “creating a full-blown partisan gerrymandering claim out of several vague state constitutional provisions that say nothing about partisanship and redistribution.”
When the Democratic Justice Department interviewed Anita Earls Phillip Strach, attorney for the Republican legislature, she asked, “How can it be left to the people?”
“If the maps don’t adequately reflect the voting strength of the state’s population, aren’t you essentially trying to prevent voters from exercising control of their own government?” Earls asked.
The North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling in Harper v. Hall has the potential to implement the decision of the US Supreme Court Moore vs. Harper contentious. Should the state court change its decision to find the reclassification cards acceptable, the judges may choose to remove the case from their record altogether.
Such a finding would be in direct contradiction to several judges’ assessment of the importance of the matter. During oral arguments before the High Bench, Judge Elena Kagan said the position supported by Republicans is “a theory with great consequences” because it would deprive a state of a constitutional remedy even if its legislature “engages in the most extreme forms of manipulation.” involved”. .”
The US Supreme Court ruling is expected in Moore vs. Harper before July, unless that decision is affected by a previous ruling by the North Carolina Supreme Court.
You can listen to Tuesday’s full oral submissions here.
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https://lawandcrime.com/voting-rights/north-carolinas-top-court-gives-gop-second-shot-at-favorable-maps-potentially-scuttling-scotus-election-overhaul/ Oral argument in the North Carolina Superior Court in Harper v. Hall