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 ScottTrump officials approve Georgia plan to remove healthcare.gov as enrollment option House committee subpoenas Education Department staff over for-profit colleges Democrats demand answers from Labor Department on CDC recommendations for meatpacking plant 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 WittmanTrade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program Overnight Defense: 32 dead in ISIS-claimed attack in Kabul | Trump says Taliban could 'possibly' overrun Afghan government when US leaves | House poised for Iran war powers vote next week Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel MORE, Scott RigellEdward (Scott) Scott RigellSpanberger's GOP challenger raises over .8 million in third quarter Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat GOP rushes to embrace Trump MORE, Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesBottom line Selection of Sarah Makin-Acciani shows the commitment to religious liberty Too much ‘can do,’ not enough candor 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.