Fed. judges redraw Va. congressional districts

A panel of three federal judges redrew Virginia’s congressional map on Jan. 7.

The new map adjusts the 3rd and 4th voting districts after a 2013 lawsuit alleged the current congressional map, drawn by a republican-majority legislature, illegally packed in black voters to diminish their influence.

The 3rd district, which had a 56.3 percent black voting age population, will now have a 45.3 percent black voting age population. Likewise, the 4th district’s black voting age population will increase from 31.3 percent to 40.9 percent, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Prefacing the ruling in Virginia, the U.S Supreme court had agreed to hear an appeal from Republicans of Virginia’s congressional delegation. Lawyers representing the Republican legislators urged the panel of judges to refrain from making their decision until the supreme court decided on the case.

Republicans currently control eight of the 11 congressional districts, as well as the Virginia House and Senate.

“Right now everything feels like it’s in limbo,” said  Brian Cannon, executive director of OneVirginia2021, a non-profit advocacy group for fair redistricting. “The uncertainty of this is not helpful for voters or potential candidates.”

Cannon said if the decision waited for a SCOTUS ruling, it would only prolong injustice and could affect the next election cycle.

“It’s a failure of the political process because politicians can’t handle the responsibility of redistricting fairly,” said Cannon

This is not the first time, nor the first pair of districts, that Virginians have taken issue with.

In October, a panel of three federal judges dismissed a lawsuit challenging the boundaries of 12 Virginia House of Delegate voting districts in Bethune-Hill v. the Virginia Board of Elections.

In that instance, the plaintiff argued the Republican-controlled legislature unfairly redrew voting districts to pack black voters into state and federal zones to diminish their influence following the 2010 census.

Currently, Cannon said OneVirginia2021 will be focusing on passing SB69 in the Virginia legislature’s upcoming session, which begins Wednesday.

A bill sponsored by the 32nd district’s Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), the 37th district’s Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax) and the 27th district’s Jill Vogel (R-Winchester), defines criteria for redistricting without use of political data unless necessary to determine if minority groups are able to elect their own candidates.


Staff Writer, Andrew Crider

Andrew is a junior economics major who has written for student newspapers since he was in high school. Andrew is interested in political history, aviation, photography and running. He has a tendency to refer to his peers, coworkers and bosses as “ma’am” or “sir,” but is getting better about referring to his friends at the CT by their first names instead. // Facebook

crideraa@commonwealthtimes.org

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