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Va. state House redistricting map survives court challenge

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s House of Delegates district map, redrawn following the 2010 census, has been upheld by a federal panel.

In a 2-1 decision, a special three judge federal panel found that districts that were drawn based on race met the compelling state interest of ensuring representation of minority groups.

In dismissing the lawsuit that challenged the race-based drawing of 12 House districts, the judges ruled that the plan was constitutional and did not improperly gerrymander the legislative map to concentrate black Virginians into those legislative districts and diminish black voters’ influence elsewhere in the state.

A separate but similar lawsuit challenged Virginia’s congressional map, focusing on the 3rd District. A three-judge panel in that case found that the 3rd District lines needed to be redrawn because the General Assembly had gone too far and had packed too many black voters into Rep. Bobby Scott’s district in Hampton Roads.

Scott is Virginia’s lone black representative currently serving in Congress.

Marc Elias, a lawyer for Virginia Democrats, said his side is still reviewing the decision but expects to appeal.

GOP House Speaker Bill Howell praised the ruling. He called the lawsuit frivolous and a waste of public resources.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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