The Supreme Court on Monday afternoon told lawyers involved in a new case on the constitutionality of a congressional election district in Virginia to file new briefs on whether the case can go forward in the Court. In a one-paragraph order issued along with two other procedural orders after the first Conference in advance of the new Term, the Court questioned whether current and former members of the House had a legal right to pursue their appeal. The Court has not yet agreed to hear the case, but it is in a form that would require the Court to act on it if it were properly filed. At the core of the case of Wittman v. Personhuballah is whether a sprawling District 3 was designed unconstitutionally because of the role that race played in drawing its boundaries. The only House district in Virginia with a majority of minority population, it starts north of Richmond and skips various cities on its way southward into the area around Norfolk and Newport News. It is now represented by a black Democrat, Rep. Bobby Scott. Its form has been described as resembling a “grasping claw.”
Ten past and current members of Virginia’s House delegation who had intervened in the case filed by two District 3 voters filed the appeal in the Supreme Court in June — their second attempt to get the case before the Court. A three-judge federal district court has twice nullified the district’s map, finding that race was the predominant and thus forbidden factor in its formation — that is, the map reflected a “racial gerrymander.”
After the first such ruling, and the first appeal, the Supreme Court wiped out the district court’s ruling last March, returning the case to that panel to reconsider in the wake of a then-new ruling by the Justices, in an Alabama case, about racial factors in legislative redistricting. Once again, the district court nullified the plan, and ordered the state legislature to try again.
Full Article: Doubts about new redistricting case : SCOTUSblog.