North Carolina judges on Monday blocked the state's congressional map from being used in the 2020 elections, ruling that voters had a strong likelihood of winning a lawsuit that argued Republicans unlawfully manipulated district lines for partisan gain. The panel of three Superior Court judges issued a preliminary injunction preventing elections under the district lines, starting with the March 3 primary, the AP reports. The judges struck down state House and Senate districts less than two months ago. There they found extreme political manipulation of the lines similar to what voters suing over the congressional map also say occurred. In the ruling Monday, the judges agreed that "there is a substantial likelihood" that the plaintiffs will be able to show that the 2016 congressional districts are "extreme partisan gerrymanders" in violation of the state constitution.
The judges gave no date by which a new map must be drawn, but suggested lawmakers could redraw them on their own quickly to ensure congressional primaries be held as scheduled. The State Board of Elections has said lines needed to be finalized by Dec. 15. Republican legislators made plain when they drew that map that the lines were designed to help the GOP retain 10 of the state's 13 congressional seats, but argued such strategies weren't unlawful. Republican defendants in the lawsuit and three sitting GOP U.S. House members opposed the injunction request. "This is a major victory for the voters of North Carolina," said Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer, per Politico. "They will finally be able to vote in constitutional districts for 2020."
(Read more redistricting