NORTH CAROLINA (WTVD) -- A legal challenge to North Carolina's proposed congressional maps is setting the stage for a showdown in 2024 that could have big implications for the battle for control of Congress.
Right now the U.S. House has a razor-thin margin with Republicans in control. Democrats would only need 5 seats to flip control in 2024. It's why Republicans who control the legislature in North Carolina passed a map experts believe could flip 3 or 4 seats in their favor simply by shifting the lines.
Under the court-drawn map that was used in 2022, the result was an even 7-7 split in the Congressional delegation between Republicans and Democrats. Under the new GOP-drawn map, experts believe Republicans could net 10 or even 11 of the 14 seats.
The lawsuit argues that the new district lines aren't just convoluted, they divided minority communities around the state. One of the districts, District 1, a historically Black district centered on the northeast part of the state would see its minority population drop. In the heart of the district is Warren County, where one of the plaintiffs Shauna Williams is from. She says the new lines will dilute the voting strength of the Black community.
"I think John Lewis is rolling in his grave because the Voting Rights Act is being diluted in North Carolina by legislators who really don't care about voting rights or equal rights to vote," Williams says.
But it may be a race against the clock. Marc Elias whose firm is behind the suit and has successfully won other cases around the country, appearing with left-leaning political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen is vowing to keep the case going. "My team will litigate this case until the last possible opportunity to protect voting rights is exhausted and so you are in for a fight and in the end we're going to win," Elias said.
Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have insisted they did not use race as a factor in creating the new congressional maps, although they did admit to creating a partisan advantage which is legal.
And it's something both parties do - A court in New York just approved a chance for that state to redraw its lines which could lead to a Democratic-led gerrymander, which could possibly cancel out potential republican gains in North Carolina, but it is all part of the calculus both parties are going to be paying attention to.