RALEIGH — Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law will host the Common Cause v. Lewis trial beginning Monday, July 15.
A three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court, duly appointed by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, will preside over the trial of Common Cause, et al. v. Lewis, et al. (File No. 18 CVS 14001), beginning at 10 a.m. in the Boyce Courtroom, Room 303. The trial is expected to take two weeks and court will begin at 9 a.m. on all other days, unless otherwise announced by the Court.
The trial comes on the heels of last month’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that federal courts should not decide partisan gerrymandering claims under the federal Constitution because there are no workable judicial standards for deciding how much partisanship is too much. The Supreme Court said this June 27 in a consolidated case that included North Carolina’s Rucho v. Common Cause.
Judges have already presided over hours of pre-trial hearings.Campbell Law previously hosted a hearing for Common Cause v. Lewis on July 2. Superior Court Judges Paul Ridgeway, Alma Hinton and Joseph Crosswhite heard the case.
In 2018, Common Cause North Carolina and the N.C. Democratic Party and a handful of individuals last year filed a redistricting lawsuit against the N.C. General Assembly over partisan gerrymandering in the redrawing of state election maps. The lawsuit stopped GOP lawmakers’ redistricting plans made in 2017, when some of the state’s House and Senate districts were struck down as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. GOP lawmakers denied any legal wrongdoing.
According to the Carolina Journal, this lawsuit challenging partisan gerrymanders of legislative districts drawn in 2017 is expected to draw national attention as similar lawsuits move forward across the country. Claims against partisan gerrymandering “present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the high court’s 5-4 majority opinion. Federal judges have no license to slice and dice electoral power among Republicans and Democrats, Roberts said.
But Justice Elena Kagan, who was appointed to the court by President Obama, strongly disagreed. The Supreme Court is responsible to defend the foundations of a free society, she wrote in dissent. “None is more important than free and fair elections.”
Campbell Law Professor Gregory Wallace said, “While the Supreme Court’s decision still allows N.C. state courts to decide partisan gerrymandering claims under the N.C. Constitution, the enormous difficulty of coming up with a fair and precise test for determining how much is too much remains.”
Wallace teaches constitutional law with an emphasis on free speech, church and state, right to arms, and constitutional interpretation.
Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr told the Carolina Journal that state courts have the right, and the responsibility, to consider cases of partisan gerrymandering, though the legislature classically controls all aspects of redistricting, said
If the three-judge panel determines GOP maps violate the constitution, then the court must require the legislature to fix the problem, Orr told the Carolina Journal. In some circumstances, a court may insist on picking a “special master,” an independent, third-party mapmaker, but those cases are very limited — typically when courts determine subsequent sets of redrawn maps fail to satisfy the constitution.
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Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law is celebrating 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.