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NC court upholds new Republican-drawn congressional map after last one struck down for gerrymandering

<p>Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California and star of the "Terminator" franchise, spoke against gerrymandering at the U.S. Supreme Court.</p>

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California and star of the "Terminator" franchise, spoke against gerrymandering at the U.S. Supreme Court.

A panel of three North Carolina judges ruled Monday that the state’s redrawn U.S. House district map will be used in the 2020 election. 

The new map was drawn last month by Republican state lawmakers after the panel, consisting of judges Paul Ridgeway, Alma Hinton and Joseph Crosswhite, found in October that the previous map from 2016 displayed unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.

Although Democrats are expected to gain two House seats under the new map, the voters who challenged the old map argued in court that the redrawn districts were still partisan gerrymanders.

The judges ruled that there was not enough time before North Carolina’s primary election March 3 to reconsider the maps, a process that would involve hearing from lawmakers and from the voters who challenged the 2016 map.

“There’s simply not sufficient time to fully develop the factual record necessary to decide the constitutional challenges to the new congressional districts without significantly delaying the primary elections,” Ridgeway said from the bench. “It is time for the citizens to vote.”

Reps. David Lewis and Destin Hall, both Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly and co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting, told Fox8 that the map “was drawn in full transparent view without partisan goals or data following extensive public input from North Carolinians to meet strict redistricting criteria identified by the courts as standards of fairness.”

However, the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) voiced concerns. 

“North Carolina Republicans yet again run out the clock on fair maps, denying justice to North Carolina voters and forcing our state to go another election using undemocratic district lines,” the NCDP told Fox8. 

The same panel found in September that North Carolina’s state legislative maps violated the state constitution because of partisan gerrymandering. The decision followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which held that federal courts cannot decide state gerrymandering cases. 

Jonathan Mattingly, chair of the department of mathematics at Duke, served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the case that led to the September ruling. His Bass Connections team produced research on the mathematics of congressional districts that was cited in Rucho v. Common Cause.