UPDATE: On Monday, March 7, the U.S. Supreme Court denied both applications. You can read the North Carolina order here and the Pennsylvania order here. Justices Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, dissented from the North Carolina order. In his dissent, Alito wrote that he would have granted the stay and he thinks “it is likely that the applicants would succeed in showing that the North Carolina Supreme Court exceeded” its authority in adopting a congressional map.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Since Friday, Feb. 25, two emergency applications have been filed in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding state redistricting processes. First, Republicans filed an emergency request with Chief Justice John Roberts asking the Court to block North Carolina’s new congressional map. The remedial map was drawn by court-appointed special masters and adopted by a state trial court after the previous map was struck down for being a partisan gerrymander that violated the North Carolina Constitution. In their application to the Supreme Court, the Republican state legislators argue that the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution only allows state legislatures to draw new congressional districts and therefore any map passed by a state judicial system is unconstitutional. The application suggests that this an important, unresolved issue that demands the attention of the Court because “federal appellate and state supreme courts have divided over the extent to which the Elections Clause countenances interference by other branches in a state legislature’s regulation of the time, place, and manner of congressional elections.” The Republicans ask for the Court’s intervention to “put a stop to the North Carolina judiciary’s usurpation of the General Assembly’s specifically enumerated constitutional authority to regulate the manner of congressional elections” and to block the remedial congressional plan from being used for the 2022 elections. Responses to the application are due to Roberts by 5 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 2.
In a similar vein, Republicans in Pennsylvania — led by the architect of Texas’ draconian abortion law — filed an emergency application with Justice Samuel Alito after a federal district court declined to temporarily block the congressional map recently adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The state court system had taken over the redistricting process after the Republican Legislature and Democratic governor reached an impasse earlier this year. In their application to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Republicans argue that the state court system “cannot step into the shoes of the legislature and impose a congressional map merely because the General Assembly and the governor have failed to reach agreement on a map to govern the 2022 elections.” The Republicans also allege that the state Supreme Court had no right to alter the election calendar to accommodate the impasse litigation, and the adopted congressional plan has a two-person deviation between districts in violation of the constitutional principle of one person, one vote. The application points to the similar action in North Carolina to argue that “state-court insouciance toward the Elections Clause is not limited to Pennsylvania.” The Republicans ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the use of the adopted congressional plan and, if necessary, order at-large elections in the state for the 2022 cycle. Responses to the application are due to Alito by 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 3.