North Carolina judges ruled Monday that the state cannot use the 2016 congressional maps in the 2020 election, stating that a lawsuit challenging the maps showed they were “extreme partisan gerrymanders” in violation of state law.

The decision means the maps cannot be used in the spring primary and judges say they are prepared to postpone the primary if further litigation necessitates it. 

In a decision released Monday night, a three-judge panel sided with the plaintiffs in the case, a group of North Carolina residents represented by the National Redistricting Foundation, over Republican lawmakers. The maps in question resulted in a 10-3 Republican dominion on the state’s congressional seats, despite the fact that there are more registered Democrats in the state than Republicans.

The maps ensured Republicans would continue to win elections, until now. 

“In light of the above, this court agrees with Plaintiffs and finds there is 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 Constitutions Free Elections Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly Clause,” the decision states.

It continues:

“The loss to Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights guaranteed by the North Carolina constitution will undoubtedly be irreparable if congressional elections are allowed to proceed under the 2016 congressional districts,” it states. 

Republican lawmakers are yet to issue a statement on the decision. Wayne Goodwin, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said the decision holds the GOP “accountable for their blatant, undemocratic efforts to rob North Carolinians of their voice.”

“After North Carolina Republicans were caught earlier this decade carving up our state by race, they moved on to silencing voters based on their political views – and then bragged about it,” Goodwin said in a statement. “Today’s decisions are major victories for all North Carolinians, who will now elect their legislative and Congressional representatives under fairer maps. Voters should choose their representatives not the other way around, and we hope after today’s rulings that North Carolina Republicans will finally give up their hyper-partisan, unconstitutional efforts to cling onto power by robbing North Carolinians of free and fair elections.”