Did Republicans in Virginia’s General Assembly pack black voters into a dozen House of Delegates districts to dilute their influence elsewhere? That’s the argument that justices of the Supreme Court heard today.
Republicans went into the redistricting with a plan — make sure a dozen African-American districts had a voting age population that was at least 55% black.
Justice Elena Kagan said it defied belief that lawmakers could apply that rule to every district without taking other factors into consideration. But Justice Samuel Alito said the General Assembly was in a tough spot: Lawmakers had to consider race while not considering it too much.
Hank Chambers is a professor at the University of Richmond Law School. He says, “It may well be sufficient to say, ‘Alright. Don’t run another election with these particular districts. Go ahead and redistrict as soon as possible.’ On the other hand, you could throw them out and let a judge decide.”
Virginia legal expert Rich Kelsey predicts...
“I believe that the court in this instance, because of Kennedy, will remand this case back to the district court, and that will essentially result in a rehearing of this case.”
Court watchers suspect Justice Anthony Kennedy will play a key role. He recently sided with the liberal majority in a similar case out of Alabama.
But if he sides with the conservatives, it’s lights out for the legal challenge to the House of Delegates districts.