This is your basic big deal.  For the first time, a federal appeals court has weighed in on partisan gerrymandering of congressional voting districts.  The court ruled that in North Carolina, the Republican-led state legislature had drawn districts that were unconstitutionally partisan and they drew maps to explicitly favor their party.

“On its most fundamental level, partisan gerrymandering violates ‘the core principle of republican government’. . . that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around,’’ the judges wrote in their opinion.

The North Carolina legislature has until January 28th to re-draw the districts fairly.  Republicans say they will appeal the case to the Supreme Court which is already hearing cases from other states.  But with midterms quickly approaching, this case becomes critical for candidates who need to know where their district lies.

“But the rise of extreme partisan gerrymanders in the last decade, powered by a growing ideological divide and powerful map-drawing software, has brought the question back to the justices with new urgency. A Supreme Court ruling outlawing at least some such gerrymanders could reshape the political landscape.” (NYT)
If you’re wondering what gerrymandering is all about, The Washington Post has a good video explainer here.