North Carolina appeals court stops candidate filings amid lawsuit over new districts

The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Monday suspended candidate filings for all U.S. House and state legislative seats as it weighs a lawsuit arguing that the state’s new political boundaries are unconstitutional. 

The lawsuit was brought by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters. The North Carolina State Board of Elections and the chairs of the Republican-led redistricting committees in the state General Assembly are the defendants in the lawsuit. 

They have until Thursday to submit arguments to the court, according to an order signed by Eugene Soar, the clerk of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

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Candidate filing in North Carolina was slated to begin on Monday at noon. Individuals seeking other offices, like U.S. Senate, will not be affected by the order.

Once the defendants in the lawsuit submit their arguments in the case, the court will consider whether to continue the suspension or allow the process to proceed. 

The Republican-controlled North Carolina state legislature approved the new political maps last month. The new maps create two new Republican-leaning districts and take away two previously Democratic-leaning districts. 

Several lawsuits have been filed challenging the new maps, which Democrats argue amount to an unconstitutional gerrymander. In a statement on Monday, North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson hailed the Court of Appeals’ decision to suspend candidate filing.

“Today’s decision to delay the start of candidate filings is an important step towards ensuring that North Carolina voters aren’t represented by unconstitutional, partisanly gerrymandered maps,” Richardson said. “Voters should be able to select the individuals that represent them, not the other way around.”