The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in the case of alleged racial gerrymandering in Virginia.
Justices may consider whether the districts Republicans created in 2011 are indeed unconstitutionally drawn.
But first they’ll examine whether the Virginia House of Delegates has the legal right to appeal the case to the high court at all.
“If the court finds that it doesn’t that’s the end of the case,” said University of Richmond Law Professor Carl Tobias. “It’s not clear whether the court would find that there isn’t standing but it’s possible.”
A federal district court ruled in June that the Virginia House of Delegates drew district lines in such a way that packs African-Americans into some districts, and dilutes their votes in others.
Republicans involved in creating the map said they were trying to comply with federal law by avoiding a situation in which too few African-American voters were drawn into majority-minority districts.
Following the June decision, the federal district court moved forward with plans to draw a new map for the November elections and in January approved a map that would make at least six current GOP districts more competitive for Democrats.
If justices uphold the lower court’s decision, or decline to consider the merits of the case, that map will be implemented.
This is the second time this case has come before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2017, justices ordered the district court to revist an ealier ruling that upheld the GOP map.
States are required to redraw their legislative and congressional boundaries every decade to reflect shifts in the population.
The winning party in Virginia's upcoming November election will draw their own maps for the next decade in 2021.