Breaking: Federal Court on 2-1 Vote Finds Congressional Districting Plan Unconstitutional Racial Gerrymander

You can read the 105-page opinion and dissent from the three-judge court here. Following remand from the Supreme Court following the Alabama racial gerrymandering case, the three judge court today found that racial considerations predominated over others in the drawing of Virginia’s third congressional redistricting, and that such consideration of race was not justified by any compelling state interest. The dissenting judge disagreed that race was the predominant factor, and said it was incumbency protection which motivated the drawing of the lines.

There is no stay in place. Va will have to redraw districts by September 1, or try to get a stay from this court, or potentially the Supreme Court.

Because this is a case from a three-judge court, any appeal goes directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which can summarily affirm, summarily reverse, or take the case.  I have not had a chance to read this opinion in any detail yet to have an opinion on what the Court is likely to do. But I have been very skeptical of the Court’s approach in the racial gerrymandering cases. See my piece, Racial Gerrymandering’s Questionable Revival, analyzing the Alabama case.

Justin explained the background of today’s decision: “On October 7, 2014, the court struck down Virginia’s congressional district 3, as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The court found that although compliance with the Voting Rights Act was (and is) a compelling state interest, the legislature’s use of broad demographic target percentages, without accounting for political reality on the ground, left its plan insufficiently tailored to VRA compliance. The districts will remain in place for 2014, but must be modified by the next federal election cycle. The decision was appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on March 30, 2015, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded for consideration in light of ALBC v. Alabama.”

[This post has been updated.]

Share this: