Win McNamee/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court late Thursday put a lower-court ruling on temporary hold that would have mandated North Carolina to redraw its congressional district lines next week.

Why it matters: This is a short-term victory for the Republican-controlled state legislature, which a North Carolina federal court had found violated the Constitution by drawing the electoral lines to make it favorable to GOP candidates. The high court ruling means that it's more likely that this year's midterm elections will be conducted under the current map that gives GOP a 10-3 seat advantage in the state's U.S. House delegation.

What this means going forward: The Supreme Court did not indicate whether the case would be resolved by this year's midterm elections, so it's "unclear exactly what will happen and when," Carl Tobias, a law professor and constitutional law expert at the University of Richmond, told Axios.

  • The Supreme Court is reviewing two pending partisan gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland that could, for the first time, alter how electoral maps are created and implement a concrete legal standard for determining when redistricting is infected with political bias.
  • A decision in the Wisconsin case is expected to be made before the term ends in June. Tobias said how the court "resolves that case may suggest how it will resolve" the North Carolina appeal once state Republicans file one.

Go deeper: The gerrymandering cases to watch in 2018

Go deeper

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.