The North Carolina Supreme Court sided Friday with legislative leaders who withheld emails and other documents between them and state-funded private attorneys about redistricting maps approved in 2011, ruling that those documents can be confidential.
Most of the justices overturned a decision by a panel of three trial court judges who are hearing lawsuits challenging the boundaries drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly.
The dozens of individuals and groups suing asked the legislators and their lawyers to give them correspondence on legal advice about drawing the maps, presenting the maps to General Assembly committees and getting them cleared by federal authorities. The plaintiffs believed the documents would bolster their case to throw out the new lines.
The three-judge panel last spring told the mapmakers to provide the documents leading up to the maps' final approval in November 2011, citing a 1983 law in ruling the documents were no longer confidential. The attorneys for the Republican legislators challenged the decision, saying the law didn't cancel the attorney-client privilege, which goes back hundreds of years to English common law.