Common Cause Asks NC Supreme Court to Dismiss ‘Frivolous’ Petition to Rehear Partisan Gerrymandering Case
RALEIGH, N.C. — Common Cause North Carolina has asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to dismiss Republican lawmakers’ frivolous attempt to reverse prior redistricting decisions solely due to a change in the composition of the court’s political makeup.
“By Legislative Defendant [Tim] Moore’s own admission, rehearing is needed because ‘[t]he people of North Carolina sent a message election day’ rejecting the decisions of the ‘outgoing majority,’” the Monday filing states. “But the interpretation of our state’s constitution does not and should not oscillate with the changing composition of the Court. The Petition is therefore motivated by improper purpose and grossly lacking in the requirements of propriety.”
In their recent requests to overturn Harper v. Hall — a case brought by Common Cause North Carolina represented by Southern Coalition for Social Justice after lawmakers gerrymandered legislative and Congressional maps to give Republicans an edge at the disproportional expense of Black voters — legislators ask for the ability to return to redistricting “unencumbered” by previous decisions that set constitutional limits on partisan gerrymandering. That petition also asks the court to overturn a February 2022 decision from the case, despite no petition having been filed relating to it for the better part of a year now.
“Speaker Moore and President Pro Tem Berger believe our state Supreme Court should rubber stamp the legislature’s unconstitutional abuse of power — putting political gain over the people,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina. “These leaders ought to know better, since both Moore and Berger themselves once called for independent redistricting reform to repair a broken process. Their petition is nothing more than a cynical attack on judicial independence, our state’s Constitution, and North Carolinians’ long-held freedoms. Legislative leaders must put people over politics and end their obsession with rigging our voting districts.”
A difference of opinion among Justices on the court is not grounds for a rehearing, according to Common Cause’s motion, especially in a case like Harper, where all facts and legal arguments have been accounted for.
“It’s clear both in the petition they filed and in their public comments that Legislative Defendants in this case are proceeding improperly in asking this court to rehear Harper,” said Hilary Harris Klein, Senior Counsel for Voting Rights at Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “Their move is politically-motivated, untimely and without a basis in law, and therefore a dismissal of the Petition outright is warranted.”
The high court has 30 days to respond to lawmakers’ initial petition for rehearing, which was filed January 20, 2023.
“We will continue to fight for all voters in the state of North Carolina to ensure they have an equal opportunity to elect their representatives and we stand with our co-counsel at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in support of the decision of the North Carolina Supreme Court finding that corrosive political gerrymandering is unconstitutional,” said Tom Boer, partner at Hogan Lovells. “There is no basis to revisit that holding.”
Common Cause North Carolina is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. Learn more at southerncoalition.org and follow our work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.