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Common Cause v. Rucho

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

January 16, 2018

COMMON CAUSE et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT A. RUCHO, in his official capacity as Chairman of the North Carolina Senate Redistricting Committee for the 2016 Extra Session and Co-Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting, et al., Defendants. LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF NORTH CAROLINA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT A. RUCHO, in his official capacity as Chairman of the North Carolina Senate Redistricting Committee for the 2016 Extra Session and Co-Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING LEGISLATIVE DEFENDANTS' EMERGENCY MOTION TO STAY

          PER CURIAM

         In a memorandum opinion and order entered January 9, 2018 (the “Order”), this Court held that North Carolina's 2016 Congressional Redistricting Plan (the “2016 Plan”) constitutes an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution. Common Cause v. Rucho (Common Cause II), --- F.Supp.3d ---, 2018 WL 341658 (M.D. N.C. Jan. 9, 2018). Before the Court is a motion (the “Motion”) by only the Legislative Defendants[1] in this matter-four Republican members of the North Carolina General Assembly-to stay this Court's Order pending Supreme Court review. Leg. Defs.' Emerg. Mot. to Stay Pending S.Ct. Rev. & Request for Exp. Rul'g, Jan. 11, 2018, ECF No. 119. Neither the State of North Carolina nor any of the State Board Defendants have sought an emergency stay. Nor has the State of North Carolina or the State Board Defendants appealed this Court's Order to the Supreme Court.

         After careful consideration of Legislative Defendants' arguments, we conclude that Legislative Defendants have failed to meet their “heavy burden” in seeking the “extraordinary relief” of staying this Court's order. Harris v. McCrory, No. 1:13CV949, 2016 WL 6920368, at *1 (M.D. N.C. Feb. 9, 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, and as further explained below, we exercise our discretion to deny Legislative Defendants' motion to stay.

         I.

         On February 5, 2016, a panel of three federal judges held that two districts established by North Carolina's 2011 decennial congressional redistricting plan constituted racial gerrymanders in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Harris v. McCrory, 159 F.Supp.3d 600, 604 (M.D. N.C. 2016), aff'd sub nom. Cooper v. Harris, 137 S.Ct. 1455 (2017). Less than two weeks later, the General Assembly adopted the 2016 Plan. Common Cause II, 2018 WL 341658, at *7. Several months later, Plaintiffs filed the instant actions. Id. at *8-9.

         On June 26, 2017, Legislative Defendants moved to stay these proceedings pending the Supreme Court's final decision in Gill v. Whitford, Nos. 1161, 16A1149. ECF Nos. 74, 75. Plaintiffs opposed Legislative Defendants' motion, and State Defendants took no position. ECF Nos. 78, 79. In an August 29, 2017 order, and subsequent opinion, this Court denied Legislative Defendants' stay motion. Common Cause v. Rucho (Common Cause I), Nos. 1:16-CV-1026, 1:16-CV-1164, 2017 WL 3981300, at *2 (M.D. N.C. Sept. 8, 2017).

         In October 2017, this Court held a four-day trial, during which the parties introduced evidence and presented testimony and arguments. Common Cause II, 2018 WL 341658, at *9. Thereafter, the parties filed extensive post-trial briefing. Id. at *9- 10. On January 9, 2018, this Court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs on all of their claims and gave Defendants until January 24, 2018, to enact a remedial plan. Id. at *10, *74-76.

         On January 11, 2018, Legislative Defendants filed the Motion and also noticed an appeal to the Supreme Court. Leg. Defs.' Notice of Appeal, Jan. 11, 2018, ECF No. 121. Plaintiffs oppose the Motion. ECF No. 122. State Defendants-including the State of North Carolina-have not asked this Court to stay its Order, nor have they filed an appeal from the Order to the Supreme Court.

         II.

         “The Court considers four factors when determining whether to issue a stay pending appeal: ‘(1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies.'” Harris, 2016 WL 6920368, at *1 (quoting Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987)); accord Long v. Robinson, 432 F.2d 977, 979 (4th Cir. 1970). “A stay is an intrusion into the ordinary processes of administration and judicial review, and accordingly is not a matter of right, even if irreparable injury might otherwise result to the appeal.” Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 417 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         “[A] stay is considered ‘extraordinary relief' for which the moving party bears a ‘heavy burden, '” and “[t]here is no authority to suggest that this type of relief is any less extraordinary or the burden any less exacting in the redistricting context.” Larios v. Cox, 305 F.Supp.2d 1335, 1336 (N.D.Ga. 2004) (quoting Winston-Salem/Forsyth Cty. Bd. of Educ. v. Scott, 404 U.S. 1221, 1231 (Burger, Circuit Justice, 1971)); see Personhuballah v. Alcorn, 155 F.Supp.3d 552, 558-59 (E.D. Va. 2016) (Diaz, J.) (same); Does 1-5 v. Cooper, No. 1:13CV711, 2016 WL 10587195, at *1 (M.D. N.C. Mar. 2, 2016) (“The granting of a stay pending appeal is ‘an extraordinary remedy.'” (quoting Adams v. Walker, 488 F.2d 1064, 1065 (7th Cir. 1973))). To that end, “[a]s with other types of cases, district courts evaluating redistricting challenges have generally denied motions for a stay pending appeal.” Harris, 2016 WL 6920368, at *1 n.1 (collecting cases).

         A.

         Legislative Defendants' Motion does not specifically address the four factors set forth in Hilton. We nonetheless conclude that even assuming Legislative Defendants had addressed the governing four factors, they could not satisfy their “heavy burden” to ...


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