By KATE BRUMBACK, Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - A panel of federal judges says Georgia can continue using current district lines pending the outcome of a lawsuit alleging racial gerrymandering in two state House districts.

The federal lawsuit filed in April 2017 says the Republican-led Legislature unconstitutionally drew the metro Atlanta districts in 2015 to increase the percentage of white voters and decrease the percentage of black voters. Republican incumbents in both districts triumphed over black Democratic challengers in 2016.

The majority opinion last week by a three-judge panel calls the evidence raised in the lawsuit "compelling" but says it falls short of documenting intent to depress black voter strength. For that reason, the opinion says, it's not appropriate to issue a preliminary injunction to keep the redrawn boundaries from being used while the lawsuit is pending.

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