NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
"The impact of these delaying tactics on the final election schedule adds uncertainty that could have been avoided if the state’s leaders simply followed the law,” Berger said.
Raleigh, Feb. 11 – The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department has refused to give a green light to the latest legislative district maps, approved by the General Assembly in late November. Had the Division approved the latest plans, the state’s unusual request for a trial before a three-judge panel, rather than by a simple submission to the federal government, might have move faster through the federal courts.
Instead, a time-consuming trial, North Carolina v. Ashcroft, will take place at taxpayer expense in Washington D.C. The Justice Department delivered its “answer” to the state’s case for Voting Rights Act approval Friday.
Many experts believe the state can’t seek preclearance of the maps before they are approved by North Carolina courts. That requirement was part of the Supreme Court ruling last July in the Stephenson case.
The Civil Rights Division’s answer also questions the General Assembly and Attorney General Roy Cooper’s legal standing to seek Voting Rights Act approval of the maps “on behalf of North Carolina’s citizens.”
“The Stephenson decisions reserved legal standing, under North Carolina law, to the Stephenson court to obtain clearance under the Voting Rights Act.” according to Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham County. “Legislative Democrats ignored that requirement, they waited until the last minute to push through new maps, and made an unusual request for a trial to gain federal approval. Not only do we believe the maps violate federal law, we think Attorney General Cooper did not have the right to disregard a state Supreme Court ruling. Apparently, the U.S. Justice Department has serious questions about this as well.”
The Civil Right’s Division also noted the six month delay between the last Stephenson ruling by the state Supreme Court and the submission of the latest maps by Cooper in January; the maps were approved in a two-day special session of the General Assembly in late November. “The impact of these delaying tactics on the final election schedule adds uncertainty that could have been avoided if the state’s leaders simply followed the law,” Berger said.
“The Justice Department apparently agrees with us that there was a deliberate attempt to delay the process. The games the Democrats have been playing do not serve the voters in North Carolina,” Berger added. “This shows Democrat assertions that Republican lawsuits are responsible for delaying primary elections are ridiculous.”