On November 20, 2019, a three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court issued an order delaying the congressional candidate filing period for the 2020 election cycle pending finalization of the state’s congressional district plan. The filing period had been set to open on December 2, 2019, and close on December 20, 2019.
On September 27, 2019, opponents of North Carolina’s congressional district plan filed suit in state superior court alleging that the district plan enacted by the state legislature in 2016 constituted a partisan gerrymander in violation of state law. The plaintiffs asked that the court bar the state from using the maps in the 2020 election cycle. On October 28, 2019, the court granted this request, enjoining further application of the 2016 maps. In its order, the court wrote, “The loss to Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution will undoubtedly be irreparable if congressional elections are allowed to proceed under the 2016 congressional districts.”
The court did not issue a full decision on the merits, stating that “disruptions to the election process need not occur, nor may an expedited schedule for summary judgment or trial even be needed, should the General Assembly, on its own initiative, act immediately and with all due haste to enact new congressional districts.” The same three-judge panel, comprising Judges Paul C. Ridgeway, Joseph N. Crosswhite, and Alma L. Hinton, struck down the state’s legislative district plan on similar grounds on September 3, 2019.
On November 14, 2019, the state House approved a remedial district plan (HB1029) by a vote of 55-46 .The vote split along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of the bill and all Democrats voting against it. The state Senate approved the bill on November 15, 2019, by a vote of 24-17, also along party lines. In its November 20 order, the court scheduled a hearing for December 2, 2019, to consider both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ motions for summary judgment in the case.