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Judge fails to issue injunction against Senate voting map


Judge James Dever
The federal judge hearing arguments against a N.C. state Senate redistricting map has thus far refused to stop it from being used in the 2024 elections.

Attorneys for two African American plaintiffs who have filed suit against the Senate map drawn and approved by N.C. Republican legislative leaders say it does not allow Black voters in at least two Senate districts to elect candidates of their choice because the Black voting population there is deliberately “cracked” or diluted to prevent that from happening.

“The chance of a Black candidate winning … is highly, highly unlikely,” Edwin Speas, plaintiffs’ attorney, told Judge James Dever.

Speas added that that violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Democrats were not allowed to have any input in how the Senate voting districts were drawn.

They asked Judge James Dever to issue an immediate injunction to stop the Senate voting map from being used during the upcoming 2024 elections, which begin with the March 5th Super Tuesday primaries.

Lawyers for the N.C. legislature, however, contend that race was not a factor in how the Senate redistricting map was drawn, and if the two Senate Districts in question - Districts 1 and 2 - are changed, that would alter the entire makeup of the Senate voting map. Defendants’ attorneys further argue that there wouldn’t be enough time to redraw and approve the state Senate map before the March 5th Super Tuesday primaries.

If that happened, Republicans could possibly lose their one vote supermajority veto-proof advantage in the state Senate.

Phillip J. Strach, attorney for Republican lawmakers, maintained that Democratic plaintiffs previously argued against race being used in drawing district maps.

“I guess the problem was Republicans kept winning the legislature,” Strach said.

Judge Dever was reluctant to do anything to stop Senate Districts 1 and 2 from being used in the redistricting map, saying that to do so would be “extraordinary.”

He did not issue a ruling during the hearing, but is expected to rule at any time within less than 60 days.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was petitioned to get involved in the case, but rejected that motion.

Judge Dever is refusing to move any faster than he feels he needs to, saying that plaintiffs had plenty of time since the N.C. legislature passed the Senate voting map last October to file suit, but for some reason, waited more than a month afterwards to do so.

This is just one of several federal lawsuits filed against the N.C. General Assembly’s 2023 redistricting plans.