Associated Press

The Supreme Court announced late Thursday that it would temporarily block a federal court ruling ordering North Carolina to redraw its congressional maps because of partisan gerrymandering. The Supreme Court’s decision could give Republican candidates a significant advantage as they face the state’s upcoming midterm elections.

A federal court in North Carolina ruled this month that the state’s congressional maps violated three provisions of the Constitution, citing the creation of “two majority-black districts” meant to concentrate black voters and dilute their vote statewide.

The decision noted that the map’s architects, all Republicans, “do not dispute that the General Assembly intended for the [2016 map] to favor supporters of Republican candidates and disfavor supporters of non-Republican candidates. Nor could they.”

The Times reports:

The Supreme Court’s move was expected and not particularly telling. The court, which is considering two other major tests of partisan gerrymandering, has granted stays in similar settings. Its decisions in the pending cases, from Wisconsin and Maryland, are likely to effectively decide the North Carolina case, too.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted dissents from Thursday’s order, which was brief and unsigned.

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It now seems likely that North Carolina’s 2018 elections will be fought using the disputed districts—a big deal in a state that has become something of a genuine battleground between Democrats and Republicans in the last few cycles.