Supreme Court Returns Virginia Voting District Case to Lower Court

By Eamon J Jawatin | Mar 03, 2017 07:04 AM EST

The Supreme Court decided on Wednesday that a lower court must rethink whether Republican political leaders stuffed black voters into legislative districts to decrease their voting power when redrawing Virginia's electoral map in 2011.

In a decision conveyed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court said the lower court had utilized the inaccurate legitimate standard in discovering that race did not prevail in 11 of the state's 12 district.

In the case of Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, voters in each of the districts tested the new map - guaranteeing it constituted a racial gerrymander infringing upon the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth Amendment.

Kennedy explained in a statement that the District Court is best positioned to decide in the principal case the extent to which, under the best proper standard, race coordinated the state of the involved 11 districts. If race did predominated, according to Kennedy, it is proper for the District Court to determine the first instance whether strict examination is fulfilled. He also said that the said matters are left for the District Court on remand, New York Times reported.

Concerning the other district, the court said it found no blunder in the lower court ruling, which found that race predominated, however that the lines were constitutional due to the legislature's utilization of race was barely tailored to a convincing state interest.  

While Justice Clarence Thomas stated that he "concur in the Court's judgement reversing the District Court's decision" which is to maintain 11 of the 12 districts at issues of the said case, he however disagreed "in any case" of the court's ruling to leave the open question whether race prevailed in the districts - whether they are subject to strict scrutiny.

Since the legislature conceded that it tried to accomplish a black voting-age populace of no less than 55 percent in adjusting the lines of the 12 majority-minority districts, he said strict scrutiny is an unquestionable requirement.

"When a legislature intentionally creates a majority-minority district, race is necessarily its predominant motivation and strict scrutiny is therefore triggered," he said.

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