Federal Judges rule special master should draw N.C. electoral districts

RALEIGH — A three-judge panel of federal judges on Thursday ruled that a special master should redraw electoral districts. Previous maps were found to discriminate against minorities.

The judges had to determine whether new maps redrawn by Republicans last summer fixed problems with 28 electoral districts drawn in 2011. Those maps were later found to be racially gerrymandered and therefore unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, writing for the panel, stated after their review she and her colleagues still had concerns about seven state House districts and two state Senate district that she said “either fail to remedy the identified constitutional violation or are otherwise legally unacceptable.”

The judges asked attorneys for the voter plaintiffs and the GOP lawmakers to chose three people both sides would trust to draw the map if the court decided it needed to take over the redistricting process. The bid for cooperation failed. Last week the attorneys told the court the two sides could not agree on a single name.

On Thursday Judge Eagles informed the parties that the court intends to appoint Stanford law professor Nathaniel Persily to review North Carolina”s newest legislative maps and, if necessary, help the judges redraw the lines in time for the 2018 election. Persily has previously helped draw district likes for Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland and New York.

The court gave two days to file an objection to the appointment. If no valid objections are raised, the court will issue a separate order formally appointing the special master and spelling out his duties and instructions. for any research assistants or advisors he needs to retain.

If hired, Persily will be paid $500 an hour for his services — about half his normal rate, the court said.gerrymander