Aug. 27 (UPI) -- A federal court ruled Monday that North Carolina's congressional map is unconstitutional because it heavily favors Republicans.
The three-judge panel said the map, drawn in 2016, was exclusively controlled by Republicans, much as they did when they redrew the map in 2011.
"As chairs of the committees responsible for drawing the 2011 plan, [Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Robert] Rucho's 'primary goal' was 'to create as many districts as possible in which GOP candidates would be able to successfully compete for office,'" the panel said in its ruling.
"The 2016 plan carried forward the invidious partisan intent motivating the 2011 plan."
North Carolina held its primary election for the 2018 midterms on May 8, but the court said it's not ruling out the possibility of using a newly drawn -- and constitutional -- congressional map in November. The panel proposed either holding a general election without first holding a primary election based on a new map, or holding a primary election using a new map Nov. 6 and then holding a general election sometime before the new Congress is seated in January.
The court said the two sides in the case had until Friday to provide feedback on the two options.
Republicans have regularly held 10 of the state's 13 congressional seats over the past six years.
Common Cause, a watchdog organization that represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, praised the judges' ruling.
"Common Cause and our partners in this lawsuit took the fight to politicians who manipulate our democracy and we won," Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn said. "We anticipate an appeal and are ready to turn legislators' brazen partisan gerrymander into a historic ruling in the Supreme Court to end the practice nationwide."