This afternoon without comment the Supreme Court denied a motion to have the mandate of the Covington case issued immediately. What this means in non-technical terms is that the challengers wanted the case immediately returned to the three-judge court to consider, under the Supreme Court’s new standards for judging the propriety of ordering special elections, whether to hold a special election this year for challenged NCGA districts. Had the Supreme Court granted the motion, it would have deprived the state of a chance to seek Supreme Court rehearing.
Now Supreme Court rehearing is almost never granted, and there is no reason to believe it would be granted in this case. But I take this as a signal that enough Justices on the Court see no urgent need for a special election in 2017, and this timing makes it exceedingly unlikely there could be a special election in November 2017.
The lower court could still consider something for December 2017 or early 2018, But that would be inconvenient, and it would be within a year of the 2018 elections. Under the Supreme Court’s new special standards, that seems unlikely too.