The filing period for North Carolina's legislative seats begins in just six weeks. But election district boundaries are still up in the air. A federal court hearing in Greensboro this week may shed some light on whether judges consider efforts to redraw 28 districts to pass constitutional muster.
In 2016, this same three-judge panel found these districts to be illegal racial gerrymanders that weakened the influence of black voters. The U.S. Supreme Court backed the judges up on that last June. And then, the redrawing began.
First, by Republican lawmakers who argued their new maps solved the problem because they didn't use race as an official criterion. But judges still had questions about two Senate and two House districts. They called in an outside expert known as a special master, Stanford University Law Professor Nathaniel Persily, to redraw those more compactly, and tweak several other districts.
The plaintiffs in the case called Persily's plan "an appropriate and legal remedy." But lawyers for Republican lawmakers don't like it. They've hired their own consultant, Douglas Johnson based in California, to testify about “the extent to which race predominated over other traditional redistricting criteria” in Persily's proposal.
The hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.