Federal court orders Virginia to draw new district lines
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Federal court orders Virginia to draw new district lines

A three-judge federal panel ruled [opinion, PDF] 2-1 on Tuesday that the Virginia General Assembly [official website] violated the Equal Protection Clause by engaging in racial gerrymandering.

The plaintiffs alleged that the General Assembly “predominantly relied on race” when drawing up 12 majority African-American voting districts for the 2011 election. The US Supreme Court previously upheld the voting plan for one district but remanded the constitutionality of the plan as it related to the other 11 districts.

The court found that for the other 11 districts, “race predominated over traditional districting factors.” The redistricting plan was not “narrowly tailored to achieve [a] compelling state interest” under the strict scrutiny test used for racial discrimination.

The court ordered that the General Assembly redraw the voting districts by October 30.

Redistricting has been an issue in many states. On Monday the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that all but one Texas district were not racially gerrymandered. Last week the Supreme Court avoided [JURIST report] issues on the merits of redistricting cases in Wisconsin and Maryland. In May Ohio voters approved [JURIST report] a new bipartisan redistricting process.