U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to consider racial gerrymandering in Virginia case

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Virginia case involving the use of race in redrawing state legislative districts.

The Supreme Court’s note of probable jurisdiction comes a few weeks after the Supreme Court tossed another racial gerrymandering case from Virginia on standing grounds, report Politico, the Hill and the Election Law Blog. SCOTUSblog posted the statement of jurisdiction (PDF).

The tossed case appealed a decision that minorities had been unconstitutionally packed into the state’s only majority black congressional district. In the new case, challengers argue that blacks were unconstitutionally funneled into 12 state legislative districts to help Republicans in surrounding areas.

Election Law Blog author Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine, spoke with Politico about the case.

“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,” Hasen told Politico. “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 is Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections.

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