From today’s New York Times:
An extraordinary pair of orders by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Supreme Court is highlighting how the partisan tug of war has pervaded the state’s courts and, by extension, the nation’s.
On Friday, the court moved to rehear two major voting rights cases that it had previously decided, one striking down a gerrymandered map of State Senate districts and another nullifying new voter identification requirements.
Such rehearings by the court are exceedingly rare. In fact, North Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered as many rehearings on Friday as it has in the past three decades. What also made the rehearings exceptional was that the cases had been decided less than two months ago — by a court that, at the time, contained four Democratic and three Republican justices.
The court that voted to rehear the cases has a 5-to-2 Republican majority, courtesy of the party’s sweep of state Supreme Court races in November. And the potential beneficiary of those reviews is the Republican leadership of the state General Assembly, which had both drawn the political map and enacted the voter ID law that the court struck down in December.
Lawyers for those leaders asked the court to reconsider the cases in petitions filed last month.
“Quite literally the only thing that changed is the court’s composition,” Joshua Douglas, a professor and expert on state constitutions at the University of Kentucky College of Law, said in an interview. “The whole thing simply smells of partisanship.”
Not everyone agrees, of course. Jeanette Doran, the president of the conservative-leaning North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, said she saw ample reason to reconsider the two decisions. “Both of those can fairly be described as partisan” in their own right, she said. “They deviate pretty substantially from existing North Carolina case law.”
Given that such rulings set precedents that can stand for decades, taking a second look — as the court’s rules specifically allow — was not unreasonable, she said.
Read the complete story here.