Sept. 3 (UPI) -- A North Carolina court ruled Tuesday that the state's legislative maps are unconstitutional, ordering them to be redrawn ahead of the 2020 election.
The three-judge panel issued a unanimous ruling stating that North Carolina's General Assembly "had a partisan intent to create legislative districts that perpetuated a Republican-controlled assembly" when it redrew the maps in 2017.
The maps concern representation in the state's General Assembly, not in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"It is the carefully crafted maps and not the will of the voters, that dictate the election outcomes in a significant number of legislative districts and ultimately, the majority control of the General Assembly," the court wrote.
The court ordered the General Assembly to issue remedial maps by Sept. 18, stating the redrawing of the maps must take place at public hearings with screens to allow legislators and public observers to view the process.
"This is a historic victory for the people of North Carolina," Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, which was among the groups that sued to overturn the maps. "The court has made clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state's constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the court's landmark decision, politicians in Raleigh will no longer be able to rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering."
Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said he would not appeal the ruling and would begin drawing new maps.
"We disagree with the court's ruling as it contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent, but we intend to respect the court's decision and finally put this divisive battle behind us," Berger said.