Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill affirming the lower courts designation that the Virginia legislature lacks standing to appeal in its own right: SCOTUS dismissed the challenge to a lower court’s findings that some of Virginia’s legislative districts were racially gerrymandered, saying that House Republicans did not have legal standing to challenge the decision.
The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats. All 140 seats in the legislature are on the ballot this fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House (51 to 49) and the Senate (21 to 19).
Democrats have been hoping that a wave of success in recent Virginia elections will propel them to control of the legislature for the first time since 1995.
The party that controls the General Assembly in 2021 will oversee the next statewide redistricting effort, following next year’s census — potentially cementing an advantage in future elections.
The League of Women Voters national president Chris Carson issued the following statement on the decision:
“This is a victory for voters because it disallows legislators from bringing lawsuits to protect their own political interests. The Supreme Court’s decision affirming the lower court’s ruling around standing is an important milestone. The Court provided clarity that state Attorneys General will maintain the exclusive right to bring future redistricting cases.”
The court ruled earlier this year that the maps in question were a racial gerrymander and required new maps be used in the recent June elections. These new maps ensured that every voter’s ballot matters in Virginia.
BY MELANIE NATHAN
Follow me on Twitter – @MelanieNathan1