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Talking Points Memo - June 17, 2019

Supreme Court on Monday sided with voters who challenged Virginia’s state legislative map, who alleged that some of the districts drawn were a racial gerrymander.

The 5-4 decision came down to a narrow procedural issue, with the majority finding the Republicans lawmakers who were still defending the challenged map did not have the standing to appeal the case, after the state defendants had opted not to appeal the lower court decision striking down the map. While the court’s split did not come down to the usual liberal-vs.-conservative coalitions, Monday’s decision is a major win for Virginia Democrats, who will go into the state’s 2019 elections with a much more favorable map than the one in 2017 where they failed to take over the state’s legislature by the narrowest of margins.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority’s opinion, where she was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch.

“One House of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process,” Ginsburg wrote, referring the state’s House of Delegates.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a dissent joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The decision comes after Virginia held its primaries last week using the new maps drawn to replace the 2011 map that was deemed illegal. The Supreme Court earlier this year declined to halt a lower court from ordering the replacement of the challenged map while the justices were considering the case.

Republicans had fought tooth and nail against redrawing the map, which could determine which party controls the legislature going into the next round of redistricting after the 2020 census. ...
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