Monday, June 17, 2019

A Supreme Victory In Virginia

In a 5-4 decision Monday, the US Supreme Court blocked Virginia Republicans from redrawing the already redrawn district maps in the state in place to prevent racial gerrymandering favoring the GOP.

In the 5-4 ruling, the justices found that the House didn't have the standing to appeal a lower court ruling that found that the new district maps must be used ahead of the 2020 elections. Those new maps are already in use.

Democrats claimed that the districts were unlawful because they featured too many black voters, diminishing their power across the state and in other districts.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch.

Justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.

Virginia Democrats had challenged the 11 districts for the state’s House of Delegates, which were drawn after the 2010 census, and each have a population with at least 55 percent black residents of voting age.

The Supreme Court has previously held that race can’t be the leading factor in the creation of state districts. The justices first took on the case in 2015, but sent it back down to a lower court for reconsideration.

But lawyers for the GOP-held House of Delegates claimed that by making sure that each legislative district had 55 percent black voters, the state was ensuring that their voting power wasn’t diminished.

Virginia House Democrats celebrated the ruling in a statement Monday, calling it "a major win for voting rights and civil rights in our Commonwealth.”

"House Republicans have spent millions of taxpayer dollars defending racial gerrymandering in a protracted legal battle - a battle in which they lacked legal standing," House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn and Caucus Chairwoman Charniele Herring said in a joint statement.

In other words, Gorsuch pulled a Scalia and sided with the Court's four liberals, finding them to be correct on a technicality.

This should have been a 9-0 ruling for the same reason, but of course there's almost always 4 votes for the "whatever we can justify helping the GOP" position, which Scalia was often guilty of (see Hobby Lobby) and Gorsuch is no different.  He just decided the battle was a moot point, as new maps will be created in 2022 anyway.

Still, a win is a win.

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