The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Virginia case that could clarify how much consideration of race is permissible when legislatures or other bodies redraw district lines. The justices announced Monday that they will wade into a legal challenge to Virginia’s 2011 redistricting for the state House of Delegates. Civil rights groups and Democrats criticized the GOP-led process for packing too many African-American voters into so-called majority-minority districts. “This case gives the Supreme Court the opportunity to further clarify how exactly to determine whether race has been taken into account too much in the drawing of district lines,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of election law at University of California at Irvine. “It’s kind of a Goldilocks problem. You must take race into account somewhat to comply with the Voting Rights Act, but if you take into account too much the racial considerations you can get in trouble as well. The question is how do you know when you’ve gotten it just right.”
The case accepted Monday, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, involved claims that the state violated the U.S. Constitution when drawing about a dozen districts to have a minimum African-American voting-age population of 55 percent.
A three-judge panel that heard the initial phase of the suit voted, 2-1, last year that racial considerations did not “predominate” in most of the districts and that in the one case where race was a central factor the use of race was justified.
The two judges who rejected the Virginia challenge last year were 4th Circuit Judge Robert Payne, a George H.W. Bush appointee, and District Court Judge Gerald Lee, a Bill Clinton appointee. The dissenter was 4th Circuit Judge Barbara Keenan, a Barack Obama appointee.
Full Article: Supreme Court takes case claiming racial gerrymandering in Virginia – POLITICO.