In a devastating and almost 200-page rebuke written by Judge James A. Wynn Jr., they ordered that new, fairer districts for 2018 be drawn before the end of January. "It's because of technologically diabolical gerrymandering, the redistricting that this Republican legislature has put into place".
Roy Cooper railed against gerrymandering in his home state Thursday after federal judges said this week that congressional districts would have to be redrawn because they were unconstitutionally partisan.
It is the first time in history that a US federal court has struck down any kind of federal districting based on partisan gerrymandering.
In the majority opinion, Judge James Wynn, who sits on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, said the state's General Assembly "enacted the plan with the intent of discriminating against voters who favored non-Republican candidates" and ordered a new map be drawn by 5 p.m. on January 24.
Attorneys for Robert Rucho, chairman of the state's Senate Redistricting Committee for the 2016 Extra Session, and other state officials submitted a request for an emergency stay of the district court order, which ruled the maps constituted an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, to Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday afternoon.
Additionally, Strach contended, blocking the effects of the order by the three judges would be in keeping what the high court had done in a Wisconsin case that tests the breadth to which lawmakers can redistrict for partisan gain.
"I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it's possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats", Lewis said at the time.
But the process of court approval for any new maps is not scheduled to be finished until after the filing period is scheduled to start.
While courts have found that gerrymandering on a racial basis is clearly unconstitutional, they had yet to rule definitively on whether partisanship alone could yield unconstitutional voting maps. They sided with Common Cause and the League of Women Voters in finding that the maps the GOP tilted violated the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Elections Clause.
At least one time, elections were held for maps ultimately deemed unconstitutional.
And Republicans, woozy with having power over redistricting after 100 years or so, simply couldn't control themselves and drew legislative and congressional districts to ensure their power, their majority - which they won under old maps, fair and square - would be maintained, no matter how skewed the district designs were.