Publisher's note: The author of this post is Dan Way, who is an associate editor for the Carolina Journal, John Hood Publisher.
Gov. Roy Cooper ordered the General Assembly to convene Thursday in a concurrent special session to redraw state electoral maps.
Such a session would be rare but not unprecedented. Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the General Assembly used an unconstitutional racial gerrymander to create 28 legislative districts.
If Republican leaders fail to reconfigure the districts by the end of the 14-day special session, Cooper said, the federal three-judge panel that originally heard the case should create new district boundaries.
Republican legislative leaders did not respond immediately to Cooper's demand.
Cooper excoriated Republicans during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. He accused them of passing onerous laws - from House Bill 2 and education vouchers to a law making Medicaid expansion illegal without General Assembly approval - and attempting power grabs of executive authority through a legislative majority that was not won legitimately.
Republicans have presided as the majority party over four regular sessions and five special sessions "under the dark cloud of a racial gerrymander,"
Cooper said. "This unconstitutional map has corrupted that basic principle"
of one man, one vote, referring to the electoral maps as a rigged system.
In its decision Monday, the Supreme Court sided with the three-judge lower court panel that the legislative districts were drawn with race-based intent, which diluted black voting strength in other districts.
But the justices said the lower court ruling didn't justify calling a 2017 special election, and sent the case back for the trial court to reconsider.
The governor said he set the special session at 14 days because it's the length of time state law gives legislators to fix the maps before a court can intervene and draw them.
Cooper said Republicans continue to drag their heels on resolving the dispute. He believes 14 days is enough time to develop the maps and receive public input.
He said he did not want to wait for the trial court to act.
"The people deserve to know what their districts are going to be" as swiftly as possible,
He did not say whether pushing this issue so quickly after the Supreme Court decision would result in a special election this fall.
"That's a decision the three-judge panel should make,"
Holding a special session while the legislature is already meeting will save taxpayer money, the governor said.
He noted that in 2002 the redistricting extra session ran alongside the regular session. Votes in the special redistricting session were taken during the regular session. That special session was called to order two weeks before the beginning of the regular session and lasted for the duration of the regular session.