When lawyers in North Carolina’s latest redistricting battle head to court next month, they might have some clues about the U.S. Supreme Court’s approach to their arguments.
Redistricting suits filed by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters are set for trial Oct. 16 in Greensboro. Both cases address partisan gerrymandering claims linked to North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map.
Just two weeks earlier, on Oct. 3, the nation’s highest court will hear oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford. That Wisconsin case deals with similar partisan gerrymandering claims.
It’s unlikely the Supreme Court would issue a ruling in Gill before a three-judge panel hears the N.C. complaints. But lawyers addressing the three-judge panel will have had a chance to review questions Supreme Court justices asked during the Gill arguments. Those questions can signal the Supreme Court’s likely approach to resolving a case.
The fact that the high court was scheduled to consider Gill had prompted lawyers for the N.C. General Assembly to ask the three-judge panel to delay its hearing on the Common Cause and League of Women Voters complaints. The panel rejected that request in late August and issued an opinion explaining its reasoning late last week.
There is no timetable for a ruling from either the three-judge panel or the U.S. Supreme Court.