On Monday, a three-judge panel in North Carolina blocked the state’s current congressional map from being used in the upcoming 2020 elections.
The judges ruled that voters who are currently fighting against the map—accusing Republicans of illegally manipulating the district lines for their own party again—have a chance of winning their lawsuit.
“There is a substantial likelihood that plaintiffs will prevail on the merits of this action by showing beyond a reasonable doubt that the 2016 congressional districts are extreme partisan gerrymanders,” and thus violating the state’s Constitution, the judges noted.
The judges—identified by the AP as Paul Ridgeway, Alma Hinton, and Joseph Crosswhite—did not give any specific date by which the new map should be drawn up, but “respectfully urges the General Assembly to adopt an expeditious process” so as not to impact the congressional primaries.
Republican state lawmakers have not shied away from the fact that the current lines were drawn to help their Party retain the majority (i.e. 10) of North Carolina’s 13 congressional seats. However, they have insisted that such actions were not unlawful, the AP notes.
The ruling was thus a victory for state Democrats who have the support of the National Redistricting Foundation, which was founded by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“For nearly a decade, Republicans have forced the people of North Carolina to vote in districts that were manipulated for their own partisan advantage,” Holder said in a news release. “Now — finally — the era of Republican gerrymandering in the state is coming to an end.”