RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal judges have affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship.

The three-judge panel ruled Monday again in favor of election advocacy groups and Democrats who sued to challenge the redrawn boundaries.

Judges previously deemed the districts an illegal partisan gerrymander that violated constitutional protections of Democratic voters. But the Supreme Court ordered them in June to take a second look.

The Greensboro-based court raised the possibility that North Carolina's 13 districts could be redrawn for this year's elections. Some plaintiffs say new maps for 2020 would be more likely.