North Carolina

Overview

North Carolina Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

Congressional and legislative maps are enacted by the State Legislature. The Governor cannot veto the plans.

The Legislature can override a veto with a three-fifths vote. No party currently has a veto-proof majority in either chamber of the Legislature.

Challenges to the maps are litigated by a panel of three judges. The panel is composed of the senior Superior Court judge of Wake County and two State Superior Court judges named by the State Supreme Court’s Chief Justice. Judges appointed by the Chief Justice must be from different geographical areas. Appeals are made solely to the State Supreme Court. Members of the panel cannot be or have been state legislators.

If the panel strikes down a plan, the Legislature may attempt to enact new maps.

Source: N.C. Const. art. II, §§ 3-5. N.C. Stat. §§ 1-267.1, 120-2.4.


Previous Redistricting Cycles

2010

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanSB 453
      • Passed = July 27, 2011 (R-controlled)
      • Signed = July 28, 2011
      • Preclearance = Granted on November 1, 2011
    • Second PlanSB 689
      • Passed = November 7, 2011 (R-controlled)
      • Signed = November 7, 2011
      • Preclearance = Granted on November 8, 2011
    • Litigation History
      • Cooper v. Harris, 137 S.Ct. 1455 (2017): After the General Assembly enacted congressional plan SB 689, plaintiffs in two of the districts filed a federal lawsuit challenging those two districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. On February 5, 2016, the district court struck down the two challenged districts as impermissible racial gerrymanders and ordered the plan be redrawn, and on May 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment.
        • Formerly Harris v. McCrory
        • Remedial PlanSB 2
          • Passed = February 19, 2016 (R-controlled)
          • Signed = February 19, 2016
          • Used in 2016 and 2018 elections
      • Dickson v. Rucho, 766 S.E.2d 238 (N.C. 2014): A coalition of voters filed a lawsuit challenging the General Assembly’s enacted legislative and congressional redistricting plans on a number of federal and state constitutional and statutory grounds, including racial gerrymandering in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act. On July 8, 2013, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts, finding that the General Assembly applied traditional and permissible redistricting principles to achieve a partisan advantage, and that no constitutional violations resulted. On December 19, 2014, the North Carolina Supreme Court found that the trial court erred when it applied strict scrutiny to the challenged districts prematurely but affirmed then ruling upholding the districts as they nonetheless survived review under that standard.
      • Dickson v. Rucho II, 781 S.E.2d 404 (N.C. 2015): On remand, the state Supreme Court reviewed the trial court’s judgment in accordance with the district-by-district analysis required by Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama. On December 18, 2015, the court again upheld the plans, finding that the challenged districts survived strict scrutiny and that the other districts were drawn with the predominant considerations being traditional and permissible redistricting principles.
        • Vacated, 137 S.Ct. 2186 (2017): U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded case back to North Carolina Supreme Court for further consideration in light of Cooper v. Harris.
      • Dickson v. Rucho III, No. 11-cvs-16896 (N.C. Super. Ct., Wake Cty. Feb. 12, 2018): After the U.S. Supreme Court’s second remand order, the state Supreme Court further remanded this case back to the state trial court to decide whether the plaintiffs’ claims had been mooted following the federal court rulings in Cooper v. Harris and North Carolina v. Covington and the subsequently enacted remedial plans. On February 12, 2018, the trial court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs as to their challenges to the districts already ruled unconstitutional and declared the remaining claims to be moot or abstained from ruling on them in deference to the federal courts.
      • Harris v. McCrory, No. 1:13-cv-949 (M.D.N.C. June 2, 2016): After the General Assembly enacted its remedial congressional plan (SB 2), plaintiffs filed objections to its validity, asserting it was a partisan gerrymander. On June 2, 2016, the district court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims, finding that it was unable to resolve them since there did not exist a judicially workable standard for reviewing them.
      • Rucho v. Common Cause, 139 S.Ct. 2484 (2019): Plaintiffs challenged the General Assembly’s remedial congressional plan (SB 2) as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in violation of the 1st Amendment, the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the Elections Clause, and Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The case was consolidated with a similar partisan gerrymandering challenge to Maryland’s congressional plan, and on June 27, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering claims present nonjusticiable political questions beyond the reach of federal courts and remanded the cases with instructions to dismiss them for lack of jurisdiction.
      • Harper v. Lewis, No. 19-cvs-12667 (N.C. Super. Ct., Wake Cty. Oct. 28, 2019): A group of North Carolina residents and voters filed a lawsuit challenging the General Assembly’s remedial congressional plan (SB 2) as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in violation of the state constitution’s Free Elections Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and Freedom of Speech and Assembly Clauses. On October 28, 2019, the state trial court granted the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, barring the defendants from using the remedial plan for the upcoming 2020 primary and general elections. The court lifted in preliminary injunction on December 2, 2019, allowing the 2020 election to proceed under the General Assembly’s newly enacted remedial congressional plan.
        • Remedial PlanHB 1029
          • Passed = November 15, 2019 (R-controlled)
          • Signed = November 15, 2019
      • Brewster v. Berger, No. 2:19-cv-00037 (E.D.N.C. Dec. 5, 2019): After the General Assembly enacted its second remedial congressional plan (HB 1029), several voters and a congressional candidate filed a federal lawsuit seeking to bar the new map from being implemented on the grounds the plaintiffs had already conducted substantial electoral and campaigning activities under the older map and to change the plan at that time would lead to substantial confusion and uncertainty. On December 5, 2019, the action was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs.
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansHB 937 (House); SB 455 (Senate)
      • Passed = July 27, 2011 (R-controlled)
      • Signed = July 28, 2011 (House); July 27, 2011 (Senate)
      • Preclearance = Granted on November 1, 2011
    • Second PlansHB 777 (House); SB 283 (Senate)
      • Passed = November 7, 2011 (R-controlled)
      • Signed = November 7, 2011
      • Preclearance = Granted on December 8, 2011
    • Litigation History
      • Dickson v. Rucho, 766 S.E.2d 238 (N.C. 2014): A coalition of voters filed a lawsuit challenging the General Assembly’s enacted legislative and congressional redistricting plans on a number of federal and state constitutional and statutory grounds, including racial gerrymandering in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act. On July 8, 2013, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts, finding that the General Assembly applied traditional and permissible redistricting principles to achieve a partisan advantage, and that no constitutional violations resulted. On December 19, 2014, the North Carolina Supreme Court found that the trial court erred when it applied strict scrutiny to the challenged districts prematurely but affirmed then ruling upholding the districts as they nonetheless survived review under that standard.
      • Dickson v. Rucho II, 781 S.E.2d 404 (N.C. 2015): On remand, the state Supreme Court reviewed the trial court’s judgment in accordance with the district-by-district analysis required by Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama. On December 18, 2015, the court again upheld the plans, finding that the challenged districts survived strict scrutiny and that the other districts were drawn with the predominant considerations being traditional and permissible redistricting principles.
        • Vacated, 137 S.Ct. 2186 (2017): U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded case back to North Carolina Supreme Court for further consideration in light of Cooper v. Harris.
      • Dickson v. Rucho III, No. 11-cvs-16896 (N.C. Super. Ct., Wake Cty. Feb. 12, 2018): After the U.S. Supreme Court’s second remand order, the state Supreme Court further remanded this case back to the state trial court to decide whether the plaintiffs’ claims had been mooted following the federal court rulings in Cooper v. Harris and North Carolina v. Covington and the subsequently enacted remedial plans. On February 12, 2018, the trial court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs as to their challenges to the districts already ruled unconstitutional and declared the remaining claims to be moot or abstained from ruling on them in deference to the federal courts.
      • Covington v. North Carolina, 316 F.R.D. 117 (M.D.N.C. 2016): Plaintiffs challenged the General Assembly’s second enacted legislative plans (HB 777; SB 283) as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. On August 11, 2016, the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs after finding that the defendants failed to show that the challenged districts were supported by a strong basis in evidence and narrowly tailored to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The court ordered a remedial map be drawn and to conduct a special election in fall 2017 under the new districts.
        • Aff’d, 137 S.Ct. 1624 (2017): U.S. Supreme Court affirmed judgment that the districts were unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.
          • Vacated and Remanded, 137 S.Ct. 1624 (2017): U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded as to the district court’s order requiring a special election with instructions to conduct a case-specific analysis to determine an appropriate remedy.
        • Remedial Legislative PlansHB 927 (House); SB 691 (Senate)
          • Passed = August 30, 2017 (R-controlled)
          • Signed = August 31, 2017
      • Covington v. North Carolina II, 283 F.Supp.3d 410 (M.D.N.C. 2018): Plaintiffs objected to the General Assembly’s enacted remedial plans, asserting several districts remained unconstitutional racial gerrymanders or were otherwise legally invalid. On January 19, 2018, the district court sustained the plaintiffs’ racial gerrymandering objections to the challenged remedial districts in addition to new objections to different districts based on the state constitution’s Whole County Provision. The court then adopted a remedial map with districts recommended by the court-appointed Special Master for use in future legislative elections.
        • Aff’d and Rev’d in Part, 138 S.Ct. 2548 (2018): U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling as to the racial gerrymandering objections, but reversed as to the objections based on the state constitution’s Whole County Provision because the district court’s remedial authority was limited to ensuring the General Assembly’s remedial plan corrected the racial gerrymandering violations.
        • U.S. District Court’s Remedial Plans
          • Ordered = January 21, 2018
      • N.C. State Conf. of NAACP Branches v. Lewis, No. 18-cvs-2322 (N.C. Super. Ct., Wake Cty. Nov. 2, 2018): Plaintiffs challenged several of the state House districts in the General Assembly’s 2017 remedial plan (HB 927) as violating the state constitution on the grounds that in redrawing them, the General Assembly exceeded what was required by the federal court’s remedial order, thereby violating the state constitution’s prohibition on mid-decade redistricting. On November 2, 2018, the trial court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, finding that the General Assembly violated the state constitution when redrawing them and ordered that a new, corrected state House plan be enacted for use in the 2020 election.
      • Common Cause v. Lewis, No. 18-cvs-14001 (N.C. Super. Ct., Wake Cty. Sept. 3, 2019): Plaintiffs challenged the General Assembly’s 2017 remedial legislative plans (HB 927; SB 691) as partisan gerrymanders in violation of the state constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, Free Elections Clause, and Freedom of Speech and Assembly Clauses. On September 3, 2019, the trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and invalidated the plans as unconstitutional, ordering the General Assembly to enact remedial maps for use in the 2020 elections.
        • Remedial PlansHB 1020 (House); SB 692 (Senate)
          • Passed = September 17, 2019 (R-controlled)
          • Signed = September 17, 2019
      • Common Cause v. Lewis II, No. 18-cvs-14001 (N.C. Super. Ct., Wake Cty. Oct. 28, 2019): State trial court rejected the plaintiffs’ objections to the enacted remedial plans and approved them for use in the 2020 elections.

2000

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanHB 32
      • Passed = December 5, 2001 (D-controlled)
      • Signed = December 5, 2001
      • Preclearance = Granted on February 15, 2002
    • Litigation History
      • None
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansHB 1025 (House); SB 798 (Senate)
      • Passed = November 13, 2001 (House); November 7, 2001 (Senate) (D-controlled)
      • Signed = November 13, 2001
      • Preclearance = Granted on February 11, 2002
    • Litigation History
      • Stephenson v. Bartlett, 562 S.E.2d 377 (N.C. 2002): Plaintiffs challenged the General Assembly’s enacted legislative plans on the grounds it excessively divided counties in violation of the state constitution’s “Whole County Provisions” applicable to redistricting. On April 30, 2002, the state Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the plaintiffs, finding that the enacted plans did violate the state constitution’s Whole County Provisions and remanded the case with instructions as to the creation of a remedial plan.
        • Remedial PlansHB 4
          • Passed = May 17, 2002 (D-controlled)
          • Signed = May 20, 2002
      • Stephenson v. Bartlett II, 582 S.E.2d 247 (N.C. 2003): After the General Assembly enacted its remedial legislative plans (HB 4), plaintiffs challenged the new plans as failing to satisfy the constitutional requirements laid out in the Stephenson I opinion. On May 31, 2002, the trial court ruled that the remedial legislative plans were unconstitutional, developed interim legislative plans, and ordered these interim plans be used for the 2002 elections only. After those elections, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the 2002 remedial plans were unconstitutional.
      • Pender County v. Bartlett, 649 S.E.2d 364 (N.C. 2007): Plaintiffs challenged a state House district in the General Assembly’s second remedial legislative plan (HB 3) as violating the state constitution on the grounds it unnecessarily split Pender County in violation of the Whole County Provision when the Voting Rights Act did not require it. On the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment, finding that the challenged district failed to comply with the Whole County Provision and the requirements laid out in Stephenson I. The court ordered that the district be redrawn but, due to time constraints, allowed the 2008 elections to be held using the then-existing districts.
      • Dean v. Leake, 550 F.Supp.2d 594 (E.D.N.C. 2008): Plaintiffs challenged the use of the General Assembly’s 2003 remedial legislative plans for the 2008 elections on a variety of grounds, including violations of the one person, one vote constitutional principle due to the use of uncorrected census data, the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and racial gerrymandering under the Equal Protection Clause. On March 17, 2008, the district court upheld the plans against the challenge, finding that they were constitutionally valid and denying the plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief because the public interest in an orderly election would be substantially harmed if it were granted.

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Only the North Carolina Legislature may refer amendments to the ballot. There is no initiative or referendum process.

Source: N.C. Const. art. II, §22; art. XIII.


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