On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered a lower court to review Virginia legislative districts for evidence of racial bias to discourage minorities from voting. The The Washington Post notes that 12 districts may have been reconfigured by the state’s GOP-led Congress, possibly to diminish the African-American vote.
In Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, attorneys argued that the legislative redrawing made it much more difficult for low-income and minority communities to vote. However, the district court said race was only a factor in one district redrawing. The Supreme Court’s majority disagreed, and while they didn’t issue any definitive proclamations, they found that 11 other districts appear to display some racially-motivated factors. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote this in the majority opinion:
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for five other justices, said the three-judge panel that had initially considered the challenge made a mistake at the beginning of its examination of whether the use of race predominated in drawing some districts. It required challengers to show at the outset that the predominate use of race created a conflict with traditional redistricting criteria. But Kennedy said that was not the right approach.
“A conflict or inconsistency may be persuasive circumstantial evidence tending to show racial predomination, but there is no rule requiring challengers to present this kind of evidence in every case,” Kennedy wrote.
This is not the first time racial gerrymandering has recently been in the news, as North Carolina saw a redistricting struck down after it was deemed unconstitutional. You can read the Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections ruling by clicking here.