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North Carolina panel to hear redistricting case next month

December 13, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2019 file photo, state Rep. John Szoka, of Fayetteville, looks over a redistricting map during a committee meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina Democratic state Sen. Ben Clark and Republican state Rep. John Szoka have announced they will run in the state's 4th Congressional District. Under the newly drawn map by Republicans, the district outside of Raleigh slightly favors the GOP. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP)
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2019 file photo, state Rep. John Szoka, of Fayetteville, looks over a redistricting map during a committee meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina Democratic state Sen. Ben Clark and Republican state Rep. John Szoka have announced they will run in the state's 4th Congressional District. Under the newly drawn map by Republicans, the district outside of Raleigh slightly favors the GOP. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP)
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2019 file photo, state Rep. John Szoka, of Fayetteville, looks over a redistricting map during a committee meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina Democratic state Sen. Ben Clark and Republican state Rep. John Szoka have announced they will run in the state's 4th Congressional District. Under the newly drawn map by Republicans, the district outside of Raleigh slightly favors the GOP. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A three-judge panel will soon hear a case challenging North Carolina’s legislative and congressional maps, according to court filings released Monday afternoon.

Arguments are scheduled to be heard in Wake County Superior Court between Jan. 3 and Jan. 5, with closing arguments planned for Jan. 6. The state Supreme Court, which moved last week to push back the primary election by 10 weeks to May 17, has directed the panel to reach a decision by Jan. 11.

The losing side would then almost assuredly file an appeal to the high court.

If the Republican-drawn maps hold up in court, the party is likely to win 10 or 11 of the 14 U.S. House races up for grabs in the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans are also looking to expand their majorities in the General Assembly and possibly regain a supermajority, which would allow the GOP to override future vetoes from the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper.

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Voting rights groups argue the maps were gerrymandered for pure partisan advantage and to dilute the voting power of racial minorities, while Republican legislative leaders believe the maps should pass legal muster since the boundaries were drawn without their members looking at election or racial data.