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Federal judge denies “meritless” motion to block Senate’s redistricting plan

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Federal judge denies “meritless” motion to block Senate’s redistricting plan

Nov 28, 2023 | 9:00 am ET
By Clayton Henkel
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Federal judge denies “meritless” motion to block Senate’s redistricting plan
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Image: Senate map (NCGA)

Efforts to prevent the Republican drawn state Senate redistricting map from being used in the next election cycle suffered a setback Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge James C. Dever denied the request by Rodney Pierce of Halifax County and Moses Matthews of Martin County for an expedited briefing and decision in their case that alleges the state Senate districts violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

In his four-page order, Dever — a conservative Republican appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush — questioned why the plaintiffs waited 26 days to file their action and 28 days to move for the preliminary injunction.

‘In waiting, plaintiffs belie their ‘claim that there is an urgent need for speedy action to protect [their] rights” or that their entitlement to a preliminary injunction is clear.’

Dever further noted that the expedited request completely ignores the heavy workload of the court — “thirteen sentencing hearings, three revocation hearings, a civil bench trial, and two pretrial conferences in criminal cases” this week alone.

In denying the plaintiffs’ request, Judge Dever called the emergency motion “meritless.”

The lawsuit claims the Senate plan as drawn configures the districts in North Carolina’s northeastern counties in such a way to dilute Black voting strength.

As NC Newsline has previously reported, Republican legislators drew the redistricting plans in secret, without input from Democrats.

And while the case by Pierce and Matthews can proceed, the Senate district map that Democrats say gives Republicans an advantage in 2024 is unlikely be put on hold before the candidate filing period opens up on Monday.