A federal three-judge panel in Richmond determined Tuesday that the Virginia General Assembly illegally sorted voters into 11 House of Delegate districts based on their race, in a statewide victory for voters. In their opinion, the court found that because the map drawers predominantly focused on race when drawing the districts, and because the legislature did not have good reasons to believe this focus was necessary to comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the 11 districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. When drawing the districts, legislators required all 11 to meet a quota of at least 55 percent black voting age population (BVAP), a target which was used to reduce the influence of minority voters statewide.
The case was on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2017 that a lower court needed to take a second look at the 11 state house districts to determine whether they were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
Campaign Legal Center submitted a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in support of the Virginia citizens and voters who challenged Virginia’s racial gerrymander in September 2016.