June 10, 2015 — Last October, an Eastern District of Virginia special three-judge panel declared VA District 3 (Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Richmond/ Norfolk) unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the draw packed African Americans, thereby diluting the black community’s influence in other districts even though the map was constructed to the dictates of the Voting Rights Act and previous court decisions.
The Republican appeal went to the US Supreme Court, which in turn sent the congressional plan back to the court of origination in order to determine the next course of action. The Supreme Court is using an Alabama state legislative case to chart new ground in relation to minority district redistricting and appears to be returning maps from cases before them back to the lower courts with instructions to add specifics.
The federal Virginia panel took action late last Friday and sent the map to the legislature with instructions to re-draw the 3rd District. As is the case with all redistricting, changes to one CD will affect at least two and possibly several districts. Most likely, Rep. Randy Forbes (R) will find his 4th District significantly changed, much to his chagrin. Continue reading >
A federal three-judge panel, on a 2-1 vote, yesterday declared the 3rd Congressional District of Virginia (Rep. Bobby Scott-D) unconstitutional because of racial gerrymander. This means a partial re-draw will commence at some point after the 2014 election and before the 2016 nomination cycle begins.
The 3rd District begins in downtown Richmond, travels to Petersburg, comes back toward the James River, and then juts south to annex most of the cities of North Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, and downtown Norfolk. The plaintiffs’ argument was basically that the Republican-dominated legislature drew this seat to pack as many African American Democratic voters as possible into this one district.
Because the specific communities were added to make the seat 56.9 percent black, the plaintiffs claimed the territory was “packed” for political reasons. They said the final racial composition figures diluted the regional African-American vote by drawing one such strong black district. Many have argued that this area could sustain two districts where African-American influence is heightened. The Republican defendants argued they were not retrogressing the district as dictated by the Voting Rights Act. Continue reading >