- Associated Press - Friday, September 8, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Two Republican members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation have backed away from a brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court on partisan gerrymandering that identified them and nearly three dozen other current and former lawmakers as representing their views.

U.S. Reps. Mark Meadows of Jackson County and Walter Jones of Pitt County were listed in this week’s friend-of-the-court brief in a Wisconsin case going before the justices with oral arguments next month. The brief asks that a lower court ruling be upheld that struck down Wisconsin’s maps drawn by Republicans because they focused too much on getting more GOP incumbents elected.

But spokespeople for Meadows and Jones said they should have never been listed among the bipartisan group of legislators on the brief and have since gotten their names removed.

Jones’ office said Friday in a statement that his name “was added to the brief due to a misunderstanding” but didn’t provide details.

As for Meadows, he “indicated he would be willing to review the amicus brief but never intended to formally sign on,” spokesman Ben Williamson said in a statement.

North Carolina’s congressional maps also have been challenged in federal court as partisan gerrymanders, and a three-judge panel last week allowed lawsuits to proceed even while the Wisconsin case is considered.

North Carolina Republican legislative leaders last year drew new maps that were designed in part to retain the GOP’s 10-3 advantage in the state’s delegation. Jones and Meadows, both considered mavericks within the House GOP caucus in terms of challenging leadership, have retained their seats within boundaries drawn by the GOP in Raleigh. Signing on to the Wisconsin brief could be perceived as opposing North Carolina Republicans.

Williamson said that “we continue to enjoy a tremendous working relationship with the North Carolina state legislature and are grateful for everything they do.”

Democratic Rep. David Price, the lone North Carolina lawmaker still signed on to the brief, said in a release that partisan gerrymandering “has systematically stifled our democratic process, encouraging lawmakers to narrow their vision and curtailing their ability to reach common ground.”

North Carolina “has been ground-zero for hyper-partisan gerrymandering, and I am proud to add my voice to this effort,” Price added.

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