Supreme Court Rules Virginia Congressmen Have No Standing In Redistricting Appeal

Supreme Court Rules Virginia Congressmen Have No Standing In Redistricting Appeal

On May 23, 2016, in Wittman v. Personhuballah (14-1504), the United States Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by 10 Virginia Republican Congressman who were unhappy about a lower court ruling that threw out a 2013 Congressional Redistricing Map in Virgina favoring Republicans (8 out of 11) as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The lower court held that race had been a predominant factor in drawing Congressional District (“CD”) 3, which was represented by a Democratic Congressman, because the map drawers packed all of the Democratic voters, who also happened to be black, from neighboring districts into CD 3. The lower court drew a new map, dispersing the black voters among other congressional districts. The lower court’s ruling was not appealed by the Democratic Attorney General, so these Republican Congressmen appealed instead.

However, because none of the Congressman lived in CD3, the United States Supreme Court questioned whether they had standing to pursue the appeal. Only 3 of the 10 attempted to do so, and each of the 3 relied on the legality of partisan gerrymandering to show harm. They each alleged facts to show that the new map would reduce the likelihood of their re-election. One Republican Congressman claimed he had standing to appeal because the new map would require the acceptance of too many Democrats into the district he was currently representing, CD4, and would thus make it a “safe” Democratic district, causing him to run in another district, CD2. Two other Congressmen claimed that the redrawing of CD3 would mean their base electorate in CDs 1 and 7 would be replaced with unfavorable Democratic voters. Assuming without deciding that these alleged “injuries” were legally cognizable, a unanimous Supreme Court held that none of these Congressmen could point to any record evidence proving their alleged harm, so the appeal was dismissed for lack of standing.

The alleged “harm” in this case is exasperating. In a democracy, elected representatives should NOT be picking their voters, but clearly, elected representatives believe they have a right to do so. We need to tell them that they DON’T.
#BanGerrymandering.

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