Supreme Court orders lower court to reconsider Virginia redistricting plan News
Supreme Court orders lower court to reconsider Virginia redistricting plan

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ordered [order list, PDF] the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] to review its decision that state lawmakers gerrymandered African-American voters into one congressional district. In October a three-judge panel of the district court ruled [opinion] that the Virginia General Assembly must re-draw the lines of their districts because the current model concentrates black voters into the 3rd Congressional District, the state’s sole black-majority district. The Supreme Court remanded a similar case [JURIST report] from Alabama last week, holding that the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama [official website] should reconsider whether state lawmakers made race the predominate factor in drawing new district lines, because that court had not asked the correct questions. Both the Virginia case and the Alabama case deal with the issue of when and how it is legal to use race when drawing congressional district maps.The Supreme Court now asks the Virginia district court to reconsider its case in light of the recent Alabama decision.

Redistricting plans [JURIST backgrounder] are controversial throughout the US, with numerous states’ plans facing court challenges. Earlier this month the Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in a case asking whether the Elections Clause [text] of the US Constitution permits the Arizona to adopt a commission to draw congressional districts. Last January the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision in the case of Kostick v. Nago without issuing an opinion, upholding [JURIST report] the Hawaii state legislature’s redistricting plan. In September 2013 a three-judge panel for the US District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that the Obama administration would be allowed to join [JURIST report] the ongoing challenge to Texas’ voter redistricting maps.