The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Wittman v. Personhuballah on Monday, a case that examines whether or not Virginia lawmakers violated the law when redrawing Congressional districts in 2011. The case targets what has been a long political battle in the state about whether state politicians drew political boundaries in order to pack African-American voters into one district.
At the heart of the issue is the district currently represented by Democrat Robert C. Scott, the commonwealth’s only African-American congressman. Those critical of the redistricting say that the boundaries were not redrawn to protect Scott’s ability to be re-elected and may instead have served to keep minority voters out of surrounding districts where white congressmen currently hold seats.
But Republicans say that the rules surrounding the action are vague and difficult to accommodate.
“You can’t let the porridge be too hot; you can’t let the porridge be too cold,” former Virginia delegate Bill Janis told the Washington Post, referring to the fine line lawmakers walk in order to ensure that the Voting Rights Act is respected alongside constitutional limits on redistricting.
Virginia is considered to be one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, and lawmakers have enjoyed relatively stable re-elections contests in the past. In the most recent election, just three of the 100 House of Delegates in the state legislature swapped hands between parties, and none of the 40 Senate seats changed to a new party.
While both of the state’s senators are Democrats and a Republican hasn’t been elected statewide office in the past seven years, GOP politicians take up the majority of the 11 U.S. Congressional districts in the commonwealth. There are eight Republican Congressmen from Virginia. The state has also leaned toward Democrats when choosing presidents, voting twice for President Barack Obama.