After months of debate, a panel of three North Carolina Superior Court judges ruled Monday that North Carolina’s congressional district map is in violation of the state constitution and can no longer be used.
The ruling is effective immediately, meaning that the maps will need to be redrawn before the March 3, 2020 primary.
In March 2019, another challenge to the maps reached the Supreme Court, which issued a 5-4 ruling in June holding that it is outside the responsibility of federal justices to adjudicate partisan gerrymandering.
North Carolina’s districts have faced multiple counts of political manipulation of district lines in the past year. In September, the state legislative district maps were deemed unconstitutional because they unfairly biased the Republican Party.
The same judges that ruled on the state district case in September—Paul Ridgeway, Alma Hinton and Joseph Crosswhite—presided over this case. They gave no set deadline for the redrawing of maps, but the State Board of Elections had previously said that the new lines must be finalized by Dec. 15, 2019.
Prior to Monday’s decision, the lines favored the Republican Party, which controls 10 of the state’s 13 congressional districts.
This year’s developments in gerrymandering cases are merely the latest in a long line of disputes since 2010, when the new districts were unveiled after the U.S Census. The current debate circulates around maps that were redrawn in 2016 under court order.