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Supreme Court allows Virginia elections to proceed under new redistricting plan

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] refused [order, PDF] Monday to delay the implementation of a new redistricting plan in Virginia for the upcoming election to the US House of Representatives. The case, Wittman v. Personhuballah [JURIST report], involves the 3rd congressional district, which is the only congressional district in the state that has a majority African American population. The question presented before the court is whether race was used unconstitutionally to form these district lines. The district map that the state is seeking to defend has already been replaced by a new plan, which had been struck down itself by a federal district court. After the state failed to create a new map to replace this one, the three-judge district court began to create one for the district and is well into finishing the project. District 3 was created in 1991 by Democratic Representative Bobby Scott as a majority African American district, and it was redrawn in 2010 but with less of a proportion of African Americans. The court is set to hear oral arguments in the case March 21.

The Supreme Court has heard a few cases regarding district lines recently. In November the court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in a challenge to the Three Judge Court Act, which requires the convening of a three-judge district court to decide certain important lawsuits such as those concerning voter redistricting. In June the court ruled [JURIST report] that the Elections Clause of the US Constitution permits the state of Arizona to adopt a commission to draw congressional districts. In April the court threw out [JURIST report] a North Carolina court ruling that upheld Republican-drawn electoral districts for state and congressional lawmakers.

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