Supreme Court Takes Up Case on Redistricting

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on a case that could significantly affect the redistricting of congressional districts after the 2010 Census.

In a list of orders released today, the court granted "probable jurisdiction" in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Mukasey, a case involving provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that subject local elections decisions to administrative review by the Attorney General before taking effect.

The suit challenges the 2006 congressional reauthorization of the VRA, which was first enacted in 1964 to guarantee protections for minority voters in problematic geographic locations across the country.

Section 5 claims involve everything from the location of polling places within a congressional district, to the redrawing of congressional district lines, in order to prevent racial gerrymandering the Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional. According to the Department of Justice, the Attorney General has reviewed 3,000 redistricting plans since the 2000 census under the VRA.

A unanimous, three-judge panel in the Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. upheld the legislation as constitutional last year.