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As Supreme Court Considers Virginia Redistricting Case, Primaries Get Closer

Voters are about to head to the polls across Virginia, even though the United States Supreme Court is still considering a challenge to a dozen districts.

It’s been almost a decade since Republicans drew a dozen legislative maps that a series of court rulings concluded were racially gerrymandered, packing black voters into certain districts to dilute their influence

elsewhere. The courts drew new maps, and Republicans are currently challenging those maps in the United States Supreme Court.

Carl Tobias at the University of Richmond Law School says time has run out.  “What I’m expecting now is a decision in June, probably after the primaries, that, for whatever reason — perhaps standing perhaps on the merits, favors the plaintiffs,” Tobias predicts.

In other words, those court-drawn maps will stand and the Republican challenge will be set aside.

Virginia legal expert Rich Kelsey says this case could end up having significant long-term consequences well beyond this year’s election. “I think this case is going to be the stepping stone toward the elimination of race-based policies, even if it’s for what would be considered a good intention.”

Both Tobias and Kelsey say they expect the Supreme Court ruling after the primary, toward the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.