On Tuesday, a panel of federal judges condemned the state’s congressional map as unconstitutional, stating that Republicans drew the map to achieve a political advantage. Judge James A. Wynn Jr. released a comprehensive 191-page opinion regarding the actions that led to the decision, asserting that the new map violated the equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
The decision by the three-judge panel marks the first instance where a federal court blocked a congressional map over issues of a partisan gerrymander.
Wynn said that the Republicans involved in designing the map, a process that included dividing the state of North Carolina into 13 congressional districts, were “motivated by invidious partisan intent.” Based on that, Wynn stated that it was in violation of the 14th Amendment, according to a report by The New York Times.
In his majority opinion, Wynn also wrote, “Partisan gerrymandering runs contrary to numerous fundamental democratic principles and individual rights.”
The map was originally redrawn in 2016 but, according to a report by CNN, two of the districts were struck down based on the judges’ determination that they were racially discriminatory.
The central demand associated with the ruling is that the North Carolina legislature, which is dominated by Republicans, redraw the map by January 24, ensuring it could be in place prior to the 2018 midterm election.
Ralph Hise, the Senate redistricting chairman for the state of North Carolina, said through a spokeswoman that Republicans intend to appeal the decision.
Executive director of the North Carolina GOP Dallas Woodhouse also expressed his frustration over the decision.
“This is a hostile takeover of the #NCGA and legislative bodies across the US,” said Woodhouse in a tweet. “It is incredibly disappointing activist Judge Jim Wynn is waging a personal, partisan war on North Carolina Republicans.”
Wayne Goodwin, the North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman, applauded the ruling.
“Today’s ruling is a major victory for North Carolina and people across the state whose voices were silenced by Republicans’ unconstitutional attempts to rig the system to their partisan advantage,” said Goodwin.
Two other gerrymandering challenges are currently before the Supreme Court, one involving Wisconsin’s State Assembly, where a panel ruled Republicans had gerrymandered, and another in Maryland, where Democrats are accused of gerrymandering to flip a single district from Republican to Democratic control.