Federal judges on Monday affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship, per the AP. Acting under an order of the US Supreme Court to re-examine the case, the three-judge panel ruled again in favor of election advocacy groups and Democrats who had sued to challenge the boundaries drawn in 2016. The Greensboro-based court also raised the possibility of directing the GOP-dominated legislature to redraw the maps by mid-September so they could be in effect for the fall elections, or getting an outside expert to do so. The printing of ballots has been delayed while other fall election matters are in court.
US Circuit Judge Jim Wynn asked lawyers in the case to weigh in by Friday about what should happen next. Any decision demanding new maps for this cycle likely would risk confusion among voters and be appealed by Republican legislative leaders. The groups and individuals that sued alleged GOP mapmakers manipulated the lines of the state's 13 districts in 2016 using political data to ensure Republicans retained a 10-3 majority within the delegation. The same judges in January deemed the map an illegal partisan gerrymander that violated constitutional protections of Democratic voters. But the Supreme Court, which had ruled against plaintiffs in a redistricting case in Wisconsin, asked them to take a second look in June.
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