GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Republicans are seeking to hold the state’s Supreme Court justices accountable for their decision two weeks ago to delay the 2022 election process while a lawsuit about district lines plays out in a courtroom.
In case you haven’t kept up, there were at least three suits filed to undo the district lines drawn by the North Carolina General Assembly for Congress and the state House and Senate. The Supreme Court moved on Dec. 8 to stop the candidate filing process that had begun and delay the 2022 primary election from March until May, to allow time for the court case and any (likely) appeals to work their way through the system.
The justices also required the court case to be completed by Jan. 11 – it’s scheduled for the prior week in Raleigh – and shortened the timetable for subsequent appeals to be filed and heard.
That decision was reached through a process called “conference,” and the opinion revealed no actual vote on that opinion, which is what has the GOP issuing both press releases and, as of Wednesday, a lawsuit.
Democrats have a 4-3 margin on the court, and some Republicans have suggested one of those Democrats, Sam Ervin, benefits from the delayed timetable. Several issued statements about Ervin, including state Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance), that were similar in tone and content.
“Justice Ervin needs to come out of hiding and answer whether he used his powerful position to harm his campaign opponents by extending their primary fight by two months,” Galey said in the release.
U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) was the person who filed the suit. He has said he wants transparency from the courts.
“It’s breathtaking hypocrisy: judges require legislators to draw maps, debate maps, and vote on new maps in public,” Bishop said in a news release. “But they rule on them in the deepest, darkest recesses of the court system. No matter which side of the issue you’re on, every North Carolinian has a right to this information and everyone should demand transparency from our judges. There are no grounds whatsoever for our courts to operate in secret.”
None of those calling for transparency has raised one other key question though: Supreme Court Justice Phil Berger Jr. is scheduled to hear this case in which his father, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), is a defendant. That situation would be outside the bounds of ethical allowances, at least one observer has written.
The maps as drawn and adopted keep Rockingham County whole as part of a new 11th District that is one of three that would divide Guilford Court and likely help to expand the GOP’s current 8-5 edge in North Carolina’s Congressional delegation. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), who now serves the 5th District, was drawn into that district along with Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), who serves the 6th.
Guilford County also is part of the 7th District (which has no incumbent) and the 10th, where Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) is the incumbent.
The lawsuit being tried, which was filed by a variety of plaintiffs, suggests that the maps are drawn to provide the GOP a 10-4 or 11-3 edge in Congress and a restored supermajority in the state legislature. Federal and state courts have intervened several times between 2011 and 2020 elections and in fact demanded redraws and changed election calendars.
GOP Senate poll
The race for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Richard Burr continues to spark discussion.
Former Gov. Pat McCrory, 13th District Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) and former Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro all have entered the race (if not formally filed based on the court delay).
Walker has been asked by former President Donald Trump to consider withdrawing and running for Congress in the 7th District, a move that would figure to help Budd, the candidate whom Trump endorsed.
Walker has said he is waiting to decide, and Club for Growth, a political action committee that helped get Budd elected to Congress, is dumping millions into his candidacy for Senate, even recently launching ads to attack McCrory.
Club for Growth commissioned a poll that it says shows that, with Walker out of the race, Budd would have a 47%-43% edge over McCrory (although the margin of error makes that a statistical tie). About 10% are said to be undecided. In November a survey showed McCrory to lead Budd and Walker.
“Our internals show McCrory up 15 head-to-head,” McCrory adviser Jordan Shaw told The Charlotte Observer. “They’ve bought Budd’s vote but they can’t buy this seat.”
- Cheri Beasley, the former Supreme Court chief justice who is the presumptive Democratic nominee in the Senate race after state Sen. Jeff Jackson pulled out, picked up two key endorsements this week. Rep. Manning said in a statement that “I know Cheri is the right person for the job and I’ll look forward to working with her in Washington to deliver for North Carolinians.” State Attorney General Josh Stein, in a statement endorsing Beasley, said, ““Cheri Beasley is tough, smart, hardworking, and at her core, committed to helping people across North Carolina.”
- Incumbent 11th District Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Henderson) announced Wednesday that he and his wife of a year, Cristina, are divorcing because his lifestyle in Washington required a “balance that was not attainable.” Cawthorn has announced he will run in the 13th District under the newly drawn maps although he lives in the 14th.