Tuesday, March 31, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Remands 3rd District Gerrymandering Case

As noted in previous posts, when Virginia redrew its congressional districts, the Virginia GOP took great care to gerrymander the 3rd District - in which I now reside - to shift as many minority voters and liberal voters into the redrawn 3rd District as possible to make the 2nd District safer for Scott Rigell and the 4th District safer for religious nutcase Randy Forbes.  A panel of district court judges found the redrawn 3rd District - which isn't even contiguous - to be unconstitutional.  The GOP appealed and now the U.S. Supreme Court has sent the case back to the lower court where it is likely to be struck down again and thereby force a redrawing of congressional districts on more proper basis.  The Daily Press looks at the high court's action.  Here are highlights:
The U.S. Supreme Court sent Virginia's 3rd District gerrymander case back down the pipe on Monday, a move that brings Virginia another step closer to a redraw of its congressional map.

The nation's highest court vacated and remanded a three-judge panel's decision in the case, which alleges that state leaders focused on race when lines were drawn for the 3rd District. The district is represented by U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News, and it meanders back and forth across the James River, taking in minority populations from Hampton Roads to Richmond.

It's part of a map that led to an 8-3 split, in favor of Republicans, for Virginia's congressional delegation, despite a statewide electorate that has leaned slightly toward Democrats in recent years.

Voters, backed by a Democratic law firm that targets redistricting cases, alleged that minority voting strength was diluted in surrounding districts by the 3rd District gerrymander, and a panel of three federal judges in Richmond agreed last year, ordering the legislature to draw a new map.

That triggered the U.S. Supreme Court appeal by Republican members of Congress looking to protect the current map.

Monday's remand will likely lead federal judges here to re-affirm their initial order, according to Marc Elias, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

"The Alabama decision supports our position," Elias said in an email. "We expect the three-judge panel to reach the same result now that Alabama has been decided."

The decision may also impact a separate case, alleging similar racial gerrymanders in a number of House of Delegates districts, including two on the Peninsula.

Any redraw would impact not just Scott's district, but surrounding ones and, potentially, every congressional district in the state.

Plaintiffs argue that mapmakers packed black voters into one heavily minority district in order to make surrounding districts less competitive and, thus, safer for Republican candidates.
Today's Virginia GOP cannot win on the issues, so voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandered districts are required to maintain a false GOP majority.   Sadly, I don't see the Virginia GOP - or national GOP - changing unless and until the Christofascist and Tea Party loons are exiled to the political wilderness where they belong.

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