N Carolina legislative districts set for 2020 as appeal ends

U.S. Court News

North Carolina's legislative districts are set for the 2020 elections after the state Supreme Court refused on Friday to fast-track a redistricting appeal. That decision led the plaintiffs who successfully sued based on partisan bias claims to end their legal challenges.

The state's highest court denied the request by Common Cause and state Democrats to step in and hear their appeal on eight state House districts now, rather than require it go through the intermediate Court of Appeals first. The justices gave no reason in their one-sentence order.

Without the bypass to the state Supreme Court, any appeal would have resulted in a lengthy process that probably wouldn't have been resolved until the 2020 elections were over, making a ruling on the districts' final shapes largely moot. So the plaintiffs have decided to quit, focusing instead on what their 2018 litigation accomplished.

"We won't appeal further," said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina. "We're pleased that our landmark victory ... has clearly established that partisan gerrymandering is illegal in North Carolina."

A panel of trial-court judges ordered the Republican-controlled General Assembly to redraw several dozen House and Senate districts that they declared had been enacted in 2017 with the goal of preserving GOP majorities above all else. That violated the state constitution, the judges ruled. The legislature approved replacement boundaries in September.

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USCIS Adjusting Premium Processing Fee

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it is adjusting the premium processing fee for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers beginning on Oct. 1, 2018 to more effectively adjudicate petitions and maintain effective service to petitioners.

The premium processing fee will increase to $1,410, a 14.92 percent increase (after rounding) from the current fee of $1,225. This increase, which is done in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, represents the percentage change in inflation since the fee was last increased in 2010 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers.

“Because premium processing fees have not been adjusted since 2010, our ability to improve the adjudications and service processes for all petitioners has been hindered as we’ve experienced significantly higher demand for immigration benefits. Ultimately, adjusting the premium processing fee will allow us to continue making necessary investments in staff and technology to administer various immigration benefit requests more effectively and efficiently,” said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Moore. “USCIS will continue adjudicating all petitions on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under applicable law, policies, and regulations.”

Premium processing is an optional service that is currently authorized for certain petitioners filing Forms I-129 or I-140. The system allows petitioners to request 15-day processing of certain employment-based immigration benefit requests if they pay an extra fee. The premium processing fee is paid in addition to the base filing fee and any other applicable fees, which cannot be waived.