A lawsuit challenging the federal court injunction prohibiting the election by the Greensboro City Council with an eight-district system, as set by state law, was filed Monday, August 24.

A motion to intervene was filed on behalf of Skip Alston, Jean Brown, Hurley Derrickson, Stephen Golimowski, Wayne Goodson, Earl Jones, Sharon Kasica and William Clark Porter by Benton Sawrey of Narron, O’Hale and Whittington.

Two of the actions filed are a motion to intervene and a motion to dismiss the City of Greensboro from the lawsuit because the city doesn’t have standing.

According to the interveners, the city does not have standing before the court to challenge a law passed by the State of North Carolina because the city cannot represent the will of its constituents, since its constituents are divided on the topic; and also that the city has no legal standing of its own to challenge a law under the 14th Amendment, since the 14th Amendment is to protect the rights of citizens, not cities.

The lawsuit notes that no one represented the interests of those requesting the right to intervene before the court, who are all members of Greensboro Citizens for Fair Elections.  The lawsuit notes that the North Carolina attorney general had a right to intervene in the case but did not and that the Guilford County Board of Elections, which was the defendant, “declined to advocate on behalf of the interest of the Interveners based on its statutory duty of impartiality and ministerial role in local elections.”

These legal actions are a result of an injunction ordered by federal District Court Judge Catherine Eagles preventing the 2015 Greensboro City Council election from going forward according to the recently passed state law that called for an election from eight districts and a mayor elected at large for four-year terms.

Eagles ordered the 2015 Greensboro election to go forward under the old system with five councilmembers elected from districts, three elected at large and the mayor elected at large, all for two-year terms.  The lawsuit against the state law that was brought by the City of Greensboro and six citizens alleges that the law passed by the General Assembly violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution because some districts were larger than others, despite the fact that the districts were all within the 10 percent deviation that the courts have upheld.  It also alleged that the citizens of Greensboro had their right to redistrict by referendum taken away, unlike every other municipality in the state. 

Eagles found that it was likely the City of Greensboro et al would prevail on the grounds that the right to redistrict was taken from the citizens of Greensboro and granted the preliminary injunction ordering the election to go forward under the old 5-3-1 system on July 23. 

Since that time, filing for the City Council election has been held and the primary under the old system as ordered by Eagles is set to be held on Oct. 6 and the general election on Nov. 3.

Alston said that they were challenging the action of the court “Because the people from the other side need to be heard from.  The redistricting plan was fair.  They are not looking at the fairness of the plan.  They are just looking at how it was done.  The plan is fair to everyone, both black and white, and somebody needed to stand up for it.

He said, “Nobody really looked at the whole plan.  You have four minority-majority districts and four white districts.  In one minority-majority district there are 38 percent white voters and in one white district there are 38 percent black voters.”  Alston said that gave African Americans four districts and influence in a fifth district and also gave white voters four districts and influence in a fifth district.

He said, “How much fairer could it get.”

He also said, “We don’t think they should be using taxpayer money to support a lawsuit put forth because elected officials don’t want to lose their seats.”

The court will have to decide whether or not to allow the citizens to intervene, and, if they are allowed to intervene, then make a decision on the legal arguments.