RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — 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 judges halted the use of these districts less than two months after they struck down state House and Senate districts. 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 — Paul Ridgeway, Alma Hinton and Joseph Crosswhite — agreed that “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” in violation of the North Carolina Constitution.

Republican state 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.


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