By GARY D. ROBERTSON
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s highest court on Wednesday delayed the state’s planned March 8 primary until May while state courts review claims of illegal gerrymandering.
The decision by the state Supreme Court comes after a state Court of Appeals panel initially blocked filing for legislative and congressional candidates on Monday, only to have the decision reversed when the full 15-member intermediate appeals court was asked to weigh in on the matter. Filing began Tuesday for these races instead.
Wednesday’s order by the justices means candidate filing is now suspended until the litigation is resolved. The Supreme Court says a panel of three trial judges hearing a pair of lawsuits must rule by Jan. 11, followed by likely appeals.
The delay is being granted “in light of the great public interest in the subject matter of these cases, the importance of the issues to the constitutional jurisprudence of this state” and “the need for urgency in reaching a final resolution on the merits at the earliest possible opportunity,” the order reads.
Primary elections for a U.S. Senate seat, all 14 U.S. House and 170 General Assembly seats, along with judicial and other positions, are now delayed until May 17, according to the order.
Dozens of legislative and congressional candidates have already filed. Candidate filing for all state and local races was slated to continue through midday Dec. 17.
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