Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Supreme Court Calls for Review of Virginia Legislative Map

Democrats claimed victory Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a Lower Court to continue examining Virginia State Districts for Racial Gerrymandering, ruling that a District Court had failed to properly evaluate whether the Virginia House of Delegates' Legislative Map is Unconstitutional.

Voters backed by Democratic Attorneys had challenged 12 State House of Delegates Districts, arguing they were Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered by Race.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for Chief Justice John Roberts and the Court's four Liberal-leaning members, wrote that the District Court had wrongly ruled that the use of Racial demographic data to draw the Districts, including a target that their Voting-Age populations be at least 55% African-American, was immaterial given that the Map-Drawers had drawn the Districts based on other traditional Redistricting factors, like Geography. Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion, while Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia had ruled Race was a predominant factor in drawing just one of the Districts. But the Supreme Court's ruling Wednesday said the Lower Court applied the wrong standard for those 11 Districts and that challengers in Redistricting Cases don't need to prove traditional Redistricting Standards weren't followed, just that Race was a Predominant factor in the Map-Making.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday at a National Democratic Redistricting Committee briefing, Democratic Election Lawyer Marc Elias argued that the Case was significant and would prevent Republicans from packing African-Americans into Districts and "Bleaching" the surrounding areas. "It's going to lead to a reexamination of the practices that have taken place in redistricting in other places in the country," he said.

CLICK HERE to read the 31 page (PDF) decision in Bethune-HIll v. Virginia State Board of Elections.

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