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  •   N.C. Must Redraw Congress District

    By Dennis Patterson
    Associated Press Writer
    Tuesday, April 14, 1998; 4:10 a.m. EDT

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina cannot delay redrawing its congressional districts even though the revisions will likely put off the May 5 primary elections, the Supreme Court ruled.

    The court's 6-3 decision Monday let stand a federal panel's order, which concluded that the state placed too much emphasis on race when it drew the 12th Congressional District.

    "The summer just got longer and hotter," said state Sen. Roy Cooper, a Democrat and head of a legislative committee that oversees congressional redistricting.

    A lawsuit complained that the district was unconstitutionally designed to elect black candidates.

    Last week, a three-judge federal panel gave the state until this Friday to come up with a schedule for drafting a redistricting plan.

    They promised to issue a full opinion explaining their objection to the 12th District, which connects predominantly black communities along Interstate 85 from Charlotte to Greensboro. It is represented by Rep. Mel Watt, a black Democrat.

    If the state must redraw the districts, Cooper said, the primary most likely would be held in late August or early September.

    "Federal courts have now thrown North Carolina's elections into chaos and the real loser in all this are the voters," Attorney General Mike Easley said.

    The districts have repeatedly come under federal scrutiny.

    In 1991, the Justice Department rejected a congressional redistricting plan that gave North Carolina a single majority-black district. So a second one was added in time for the 1992 elections.

    Eva Clayton in the 1st District and Watt in the 12th became the first blacks elected to Congress from North Carolina in the 20th century.

    The Supreme Court in 1996 ordered the state to redraw the 12th district.

    © Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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