The Supreme Court on Thursday halted a controversial lower court ruling that had found North Carolina’s congressional districts were illegally drawn, and had threatened to upend November’s elections.
Republicans had requested the delay and the justices, in a 7-2 ruling, agreed, saying the decision is on hold.
Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina GOP, said that means they’ll be able to hold November’s elections under the current maps, which give Republicans a 10-3 advantage.
“Today’s ruling allows our congressional elections to proceed under the fair and legal maps used in the 2016 elections,” Mr. Hayes said.
A three-judge panel had ruled the districts illegal, saying the state legislature had engaged in a partisan gerrymander that disfavored non-Republicans.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor would have denied the stay, the court said.
The Supreme Court has suggested that there is a limit to how much partisanship can go into drawing legislative lines, but has never set that line. Earlier this term the justices heard a case out of Wisconsin that asked them to adopt a formula defining illegal partisan gerrymandering.
Ruth Greenwood, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, which is representing the League of Women Voters of North Carolina in the legal battle, said voters deserve a fair map for the 2018 mid-term elections after the maps have been in question since 2012.
“A single election under an unconstitutional map is one too many; four are intolerable. For that reason, the Supreme Court must move quickly to hear this case this term,” she said.