UPDATE (3 P.M.): This version of the story replaces Sen. Dan Blue’s initial tweet with portions of his formal statement.
Chairmen of the N.C. House and Senate redistricting committees are taking aim at the Stanford law professor who is redrawing legislative election maps under the order of a three-judge federal panel. A news release from those committee chairmen references the professor’s “overt political agenda.”
Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, issued a three-paragraph news release upon learning of the latest changes in election maps from Nathaniel Persily, the “special master” in the Covington v. North Carolina legislative redistricting lawsuit.
The news release carries the headline “Redistricting Chairs Respond to Persily’s Overt Political Agenda.” It argues that Persily adjusted his original maps “to incorporate most of the Democrat plaintiffs’ requested changes.”
“Earlier this week, the (Raleigh) News & Observer analyzed the original maps drawn by the so-called ‘special master’ and reported those maps would already make it easier for Democrats to defeat Republican incumbents,” said Lewis and Hise. “By making many changes Democrats demanded, Mr. Persily has confirmed our worst suspicions: This entire ‘judicial process’ is little more than a thinly veiled political operation where unelected judges, legislating from the bench, strip North Carolinians of their constitutional right to self-governance by appointing a left-wing California professor to draw districts handing Democrats control of legislative seats they couldn’t win at the ballot box.”
Legislative Republicans want to maintain legislative election districts drawn and approved by the General Assembly in reaction to an earlier court order in the Covington case, according to the news release.
They also question the need for a special master in the case, since the three-judge panel has issued no ruling on the General Assembly’s districts. “Nathaniel Persily’s involvement is unwarranted when there’s been no order or explanation from the court that anything is wrong with their maps,” the legislative news release concludes.
Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, issued his own three-paragraph statement responding to the new maps. “The maps submitted to the three-judge panel are the biggest step forward for North Carolinians in the past six years,” Blue said. “Mr. Persily was successful in delivering a win to voters that Republicans have been unwilling to provide for the past several years.”
The three-judge panel has set a Jan. 5 hearing to address the ongoing dispute. Candidate filing for 2018 legislative elections is scheduled to start in February.