Federal court strikes down Virginia's congressional map
© Greg Nash

A federal court on Friday ordered Virginia to redraw its congressional map, finding that the state unconstitutionally packed too many black voters into Democratic Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottEducation Department finalizes new regulations to relax college-accreditation requirements Trump admin gave over million in aid to students at unaccredited for-profit colleges CBO: Pelosi bill to lower drug prices saves Medicare 5 billion MORE's district.

The court panned the Legislature for adding more black voters to Scott’s district despite the fact that he had previously won large electoral victories in the majority black district.

“We also recognize that individuals in the Third Congressional District whose constitutional rights have been injured by improper racial gerrymandering have suffered significant harm,” the court wrote in its majority opinion.


The ruling also bars Virginia from holding new congressional elections until it creates an adequate map.

Partisan redistricting to protect incumbents or make districts more competitive is not necessarily a violation of the Voting Rights Act, but race-based gerrymandering, which the court found in Virginia, is unconstitutional.

Under the map now invalidated by the court, 57 percent of the population in Scott’s district is black. That’s a stark difference from contiguous districts, which include three where the black proportion of the population is between 15 percent and 21 percent and another where 32 percent of residents are black.

A redrawn map likely won't affect Scott's chances of holding his seat, but it could make surrounding districts, held by Republican Reps. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanOvernight Defense: Top general briefs GOP senators on Syria plan | Senators 'encouraged' by briefing | Pence huddles with Republican allies on Syria | Trump nominee sidesteps questions on arms treaties Virginia Port: Gateway to the economic growth Republican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract MORE, Scott RigellEdward (Scott) Scott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE, Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesToo much ‘can do,’ not enough candor Trump makes little headway filling out Pentagon jobs Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary MORE, and Dave Brat more competitive.

The ruling is the second time that the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia struck down a map. The court made a similar ruling in October.

Now, the state Legislature has until Sept. 1 to develop new maps, barring any appeal. 

But Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe can veto that legislation, which could complicate the plans of the GOP-majority Legislature.

Mike Carvin, the attorney representing the State of Virginia, told National Journal that “it’s safe to say” lawmakers will appeal the case.