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Activists outside the Supreme Court during . Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

A three-judge federal court panel on Wednesday unanimously struck down a Maryland congressional map as unconstitutional and ordered political leaders to draw a new one for the 2020 election.

Why it matters: The judges decided in favor of Republicans, who brought the suit and argued that the Democratic-controlled state legislature had intentionally designed the 6th Congressional District map to their benefit. Following the 2010 Census, when lawmakers crafted a new congressional map, they included parts of the heavily Democratic Montgomery County, costing a Republican incumbent his seat.

The details: Officials have until next spring to submit a new redistricting plan, otherwise, the court’s order will establish a commission that will create a map of its own.

  • Earlier this year, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the case, which sought to halt to this year’s midterm elections as Republicans argued the map was unfair. However, the high court punted the case back to the lower court for further preceding.
  • The justices said that it was too late to redraw the map and questioned why the plaintiffs had waited six years to file their claim.

Read more: These midterm victories will expand voting rights, curb gerrymandering

Go deeper

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

FDA approves AstraZeneca COVID drug for people with immune problems

Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

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