The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a court-imposed congressional redistricting map in Virginia, dismissing a challenge from three Republican congressmen. The court’s brief, unanimous decision said the members of Congress had not shown that they had suffered the sort of direct and concrete injury that gave them standing to sue. The court, therefore, did not rule on the larger issues in the case, Wittman v. Personhuballah, No. 14-1504, which concerned the role race may play in drawing legislative maps. “We cannot decide the merits of this case unless the intervenor members of Congress challenging the district court’s racial-gerrymandering decision have standing,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the court. “We conclude that the intervenors now lack standing. We must therefore dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.”
The court addressed a similar question last year in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama. By a 5-to-4 vote, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and the court’s four more liberal members in the majority, the court indicated that the Alabama Legislature had relied too heavily on race in its 2012 state redistricting by maintaining high concentrations of black voters in some districts.
The Virginia case started with a similar challenge to a map drawn by the state’s General Assembly. A three-judge federal court struck down the map, saying it had put too many black voters into an oddly shaped district, diminishing their voting power.
The court gave the General Assembly an opportunity to redraw the map, but lawmakers failed to act. The court then devised its own map.