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Dozen Virginia Voters File Suit Over House of Delegates Districts They Call “racial gerrymanders”

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Check out this lawsuit, filed by a dozen Virginia voters in the U.S. District Court (Eastern District; Richmond Division). Key points:

*”Plaintiffs bring this action to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia House ofDelegates Districts 63, 69, 70, 71, 74, 75, 77, 80, 89, 90,92, and 95 (the “Challenged Districts”) as racial gerrymanders in violation ofthe Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

*”During the2010-2011 redistricting cycle, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a House of Delegates Redistricting Plan (the “2011 Plan”) pursuant towhich each ofthe Challenged Districts was purposefully drawn to have an African-American voting age population that met or exceeded a pre-determined 55% threshold. As a result, African American voters were illegally packed into the Challenged Districts, thereby diminishing their influence in the surrounding districts.”

*”The General Assembly adopted the 55% racial threshold without justification, including any determination that the threshold was reasonably necessary to avoid retrogression ineach ofthe Challenged Districts orotherwise comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

*”Drawn with race as their predominant purpose, without compelling justification or narrow tailoring, the Challenged Districts cannot pass constitutional muster.”

*”Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the Challenged Districts are invalid and an injunction prohibiting the Defendants from calling, holding, supervising, or taking any action with respect to House of Delegates elections based on the Challenged Districts as they currently stand.”

Note that this lawsuit is for the Virginia House of Delegates, and comes following the October 2014 federal court decision that “Virginia’s congressional maps unconstitutional because they concentrate African American voters into a single district at the expense of their influence elsewhere.”

Yet again, these lawsuits point to the need for reform in the way districts are drawn, such as by a neutral, nonpartisan redistricting commission. What are the chances of that happening through the political process? Not good, to put it mildly. We’ll see whether the judicial system turns out to be a more effective option.

P.S. What’s truly sad is that  most Dems (Del. Patrick Hope being one notable exception) voted for this monstrosity. WHY?