Race in drawing district lines
Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections15-680
(1) Whether the court below erred in holding that race cannot predominate even where it is the most important consideration in drawing a given district unless the use of race results in “actual conflict” with traditional districting criteria; (2) whether the court below erred by concluding that the admitted use of a one-size-fits-all 55% black voting age population floor to draw twelve separate House of Delegates districts did not amount to racial predominance and trigger strict scrutiny; (3) whether the court below erred in disregarding the admitted use of race in drawing district lines in favor of examining circumstantial evidence regarding the contours of the districts; (4) whether the court below erred in holding that racial goals must negate all other districting criteria in order for race to predominate; and (5) whether the court below erred in concluding that the General Assembly's predominant use of race in drawing House District 75 was narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
DECISIONDecided March 1, 2017 HOLDING
The District Court employed an incorrect legal standard in determining that race did not predominate in 11 of the 12 districts. The District Court’s judgment regarding District 75 is consistent with the basic narrow tailoring analysis explained in Alabama.
KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.
ORAL ARGUMENTArgued December 5, 2016
CERTIORARI STAGEGranted June 6, 2016
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
Decided October 22, 2015