Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to Va. redistricting plan

Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to Va. redistricting plan
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The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a Republican challenge to redistricting in Virginia, leaving in place a map that could prove more favorable to Democrats.  

The court unanimously held that Reps. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanOvernight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland House panel votes to restrict possible changes to Air Force One design 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill MORE and other Republicans from Virginia, including Reps. 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 David Brat, lacked standing to pursue their appeal because none of them could show they were injured by the redistricting plan.

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The case, Wittman v. Personhuballah, centers on Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, which is now represented by Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottAnyone for tennis? Washington Kastles Charity Classic returns this week Liberal Democrats warn: We'll sink minimum wage bill if moderates change it A minimum wage is exactly what our economy needs MORE (D), the commonwealth’s only black congressman.

Two Virginia voters — Gloria Personhuballah and James Farkas — challenged the way the district was redrawn in 2012, arguing that the Republican-controlled legislature violated the Voting Rights Act by packing black voters into Scott’s district to make surrounding areas better for white candidates.

A lower court agreed and tossed out the Virginia redistricting plan. It elicited and ultimately settled on an alternative, neutral redistricting plan during the remedial phase of litigation.

In their appeal, Wittman, Forbes and Brat argued that, in the remedy for the unconstitutional 2012 plan, a portion of their electorate was replaced with Democrats, reducing the likelihood that they’ll win reelection. 

The Supreme Court disagreed. In their six-page ruling, the justices said Wittman and Brat had not identified any evidence to support their claim of injury. Forbes, meanwhile, might have had standing to sue at the start of the appeal, the justices ruled, but doesn’t now. 

“Originally Representative Forbes argued that he would abandon his campaign in District 2 and run in District 4 if this court ruled in his favor,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the opinion of the court. “Now, however, he has informed the court that he will continue to seek election in District 2 regardless of this appeal’s outcome. Given this change, this court does not see how any injury that Forbes might have suffered is ‘likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.’ "

Republican Reps. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteImmigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute MOREMorgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Overnight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA Six Republicans named to House climate panel MOREScott RigellEdward (Scott) Scott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORERobert HurtRobert HurtThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms Democrat defeats controversial chair of House Wall Street subpanel Republican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds MORE and Barbara Comstock, as well as two former House members from the state, Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorGOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington House Republicans find silver lining in minority MORE and Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfDOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump Bolton could be the first national security chief to prioritize religious freedom MORE, also participated in this case, but only Forbes, Wittman and Brat claimed to have standing once the case got to the Supreme Court.

The court held that a party only has Article III standing if they can show they've suffered an "injury in fact," that the injury is "fairly traceable" to the conduct being challenged and that the injury will like be "redressed by a favorable decision." 

"Since the Commonwealth of Virginia has not pursued an appeal, only the intervenors currently attack the District Court's decisions striking down the enacted plan," Breyer wrote. "And an intervenor cannot step into the shoes of the original party unless the intervenor independently fulfills the requirements of Article III." 

Court watchers say Monday’s decision could help Democrats pick up seats in Virginia this November.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said Democrats might have a shot at winning the 2nd and 4th districts. 

Tobias argued that Donald McEachin, a Democrat, could win the 4th district seat that Forbes is vacating to run in the 2nd district. And though Rigell, who is stepping down, has endorsed Forbes in the new district, Tobias said the the redistricting could shift the voter makeup enough for a Democrat to win.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Goodlatte expressed frustration with the court's ruling. 

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court does not address the fundamentally flawed ruling of the divided three-judge court, but deals solely with whether Virginia’s Members of Congress had standing to bring this appeal," he said. "While the decision ends this case, nothing has changed for future districting actions elsewhere in the United States.”

Updated at 5:11 p.m.