The State of Redistricting Litigation (November 7, 2018)

A round up of where key redistricting cases across the country stand.

November 7, 2018

Partisan Gerrymandering

Wisconsin:

Gill v. Whitford

A landmark appeal from Wisconsin in the Supreme Court’s 2018-19 term gave the high court its first opportunity in over a decade to rule on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. However, on June 18, 2018, the Court vacated the opinion of the district court, holding that the plaintiffs had not established that they had standing to bring the case, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. 

The suit began in 2015, when Democratic voters in Wisconsin challenged their state’s Republican-drawn 2011 general assembly plan. A panel of three federal judges declared the plan was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the plaintiffs’ First Amendment freedom of association. The ruling was the first time in over three decades that a federal court invalidated a redistricting plan for partisan bias.

Wisconsin filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, which also granted the state’s request to stay the remedial map-drawing process while it considered the case.

On June 18, 2018, the Supreme Court vacated the district court’s decision. In a majority opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court declined to weigh in on the merits of the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims and instead vacated the decision on standing grounds, remanding the case to the district court for reconsideration of standing and other further proceedings.

On October 17, parties agreed to a schedule that would set trial for April 23-26, 2019.

Key pleadings for Gill v. Whitford can be found here.

Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee v. Gill

The Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee is also challenging Wisconsin’s 2011 state assembly district plan as a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Assembly Democrats’ associational rights under the First Amendment.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to enjoin the 2011 plan and order a new map be drawn. They also filed a motion to consolidate their case with ongoing litigation in Gill v. Whitford.

Key pleadings for Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee v. Gill can be found here

Maryland: Benisek v. Lamone

Individual Republican voters in Maryland are challenging the state’s congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, focusing their claims on the configuration of the Sixth Congressional District. The case awaits trial after the Supreme Court rejected the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.

According to the plaintiffs, lawmakers intentionally used information about voters’ histories and party affiliations to move large numbers of Republican voters out of the state’s Sixth Congressional District and move large numbers of Democratic voters in, thus flipping the district from a reliable Republican seat into a safe Democratic one. The plaintiffs claim the resulting plan violates their right to representation guaranteed by the First Amendment’s freedom of political association and Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

The three-judge panel hearing the case denied the state’s motion to dismiss and held that a map could be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander if the plaintiffs could satisfy a three-part test laid out by the court.

The plaintiffs then requested a preliminary injunction blocking use of the maps in the 2018 elections. The panel denied the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction on August 24, 2017, and the plaintiffs filed an appeal.

On June 18, 2018, the Court affirmed the district court's decision not to enjoin the map, holding that the district court's denial was not abuse of discretion. 

Back before the district court, on November 7, 2018, the three-judge panel granted the plaintiffs' request to permanently enjoin the 2011 plan and ordered new maps be drawn for the 2020 elections. 

Key pleadings for Benisek v. Lamone can be found here.

North Carolina:

In North Carolina, three separate cases are challenging the state’s 2016 remedial congressional plan, which the North Carolina legislature adopted to replace an earlier plan that the courts struck down as a racial gerrymander.

Harris v. Cooper (formerly known as Harris v. McCrory)

Harris v. Cooper is an appeal arising from objections that plaintiffs lodged to a remedial map drawn by the legislature in 2016 to replace an earlier map struck down as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The plaintiffs argued at the district court that the new map should have been enjoined because it replaced an unconstitutional racial gerrymander with an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. (For more on the racial gerrymandering case that spawned this dispute, see Cooper v. Harris, below.)

The three-judge panel denied the plaintiffs’ objections, ruling that the court could not “resolve this question based on the record before it.” The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the panel’s decision in a June 28, 2018 order.

Key pleadings for Harris v. Cooper can be found here.

Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina and Rucho v. Common Cause

Good government groups, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and individual voters are also challenging North Carolina’s 2016 remedial congressional map in a pair of partisan gerrymandering cases.  

The Common Cause plaintiffs—Common Cause, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and Democratic voters from each of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts—and the League of Women Voters plaintiffs—the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and 12 individual plaintiffs from 6 of the state’s districts—each sued separately to enjoin North Carolina’s current congressional map based on First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I violations.

The district court consolidated the two cases for trial on March 3, 2017.

On January 11, 2018, the district court struck down the map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, blocked the state from using the plan for future elections, and appointed a special master to redraw the map. However, the legislative defendants appealed, and the Supreme Court stayed the district court’s order pending appeal. On June 25, 2018, the Supreme Court declined to set the case for argument and instead remanded the case for reconsideration in light of its Whitford opinion.

On August 27, the three-judge panel issued a new opinion, ruling for the plaintiffs on all of their claims: the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution. The parties are currently briefing remedies issues.

On September 12, the defendants secured a motion to stay pending Supreme Court review. 

Key pleadings for Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina can be found here.

Key pleadings for Rucho v. Common Cause can be found here.

Pennsylvania:

In 2018, Pennsylvania received a new congressional map after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s 2011 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. A federal lawsuit then attempted to block the new, court-drawn map from taking effect, but was dismissed with prejudice for lack of standing in March. Another lawsuit that challenged the 2011 congressional map on appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court has been dismissed.

League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and a group of Democratic Pennsylvania voters filed a lawsuit on June 15, 2017, to have the state’s 2011 congressional map invalidated as an illegal partisan gerrymander under the state constitution.

On January 22, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the 2011 congressional map as unconstitutional and enjoined the use of the map in future elections. After the legislature failed to pass a new map, the court adopted a new plan drawn by a special master. A group of Republican legislators from the state’s legislative and congressional delegations filed an application for a stay in Corman v. Torres (see below) asking a three-judge federal court to ban the new, court-drawn map from taking effect. The federal court, however, dismissed the lawsuit on March 19. That same day, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency motion to stay the new map, the second time this year the Court rejected a request for a stay by the legislative defendants in the League of Women Voters case. The court drawn map remained in place for the 2018 midterm elections.

Pennsylvania legislative leaders filed a petition for certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Court declined to review their appeal.

Key pleadings for League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can be found here.

Corman v. Torres

On February 22, 2018, eight of Pennsylvania’s Republican members of the U.S. House, along with the majority leader of Pennsylvania senate and the chair of the senate state government committee, filed suit in federal district court in Harrisburg, seeking to block Pennsylvania from using the new congressional map put in place by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The suit argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution when it required that any map adopted during the remedial process comply with redistricting criteria specified in the court’s order. The suit also contended that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court failed to give lawmakers adequate time to adopt a remedial plan.

On March 19, 2018, a three-judge panel dismissed the lawsuit, ruling, among other things, that the individual legislators did not have standing to sue on behalf of the entire state legislature and that Republican members of Congress had not suffered any injury.

On April 3, 2018, a former Pennsylvania elected official moved to intervene in the district court proceedings and requested that the panel reconsider its decision dismissing the suit. The panel denied this motion, prompting the plaintiff-intervenor to file an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. That appeal is pending.

Key pleadings for Corman v. Torres can be found here.

Agre v. Wolf

Four Pennsylvania citizens filed a federal lawsuit that challenged the state’s 2011 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The plaintiffs argued that the map violates the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs asked the court to redraw the districts before the 2018 congressional elections.

On November 15, 2017, the three-judge panel denied the legislative defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claim under the Elections Clause. However, the court dismissed the plaintiffs' equal protection claim with prejudice and dismissed their First Amendment claim. The plaintiffs filed an amended First Amendment claim, which the court dismissed on November 30.

On January 10, 2018, in a 2-1 judgment, the court rejected the plaintiffs' remaining claims. The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court on January 18.

On May 29, 2018, the Court dismissed the appeal as moot.

Key pleadings for Agre v. Wolf can be found here.  

Diamond v. Torres

A group of Democratic Pennsylvania residents filed a suit against state election officials, contending that the state’s 2011 congressional map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the Elections Clause, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs alleged the Republican legislature drew the map to maximize Republican power by cracking and packing Democratic-affiliated voters into specific districts to dilute their voting power and deny them a realistic opportunity to elect their candidates of choice.

The plaintiffs asked the court to expeditiously declare the congressional plan invalid and issue an injunction prohibiting the legislature from administering any elections under the plan for 2018.

On January 11, 2018, the legislative defendants filed a motion to dismiss and motion to stay or abstain from hearing the case pending resolution of Gill v. WhitfordBenisek v. Lamone, and League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On January 23, the court granted the motion to stay. 

On April 9, 2018, the court dismissed the case on stipulation of the parties. 

Key pleadings for Diamond v. Torres can be found here.

Michigan:

League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Johnson

The League of Women Voters of Michigan and eleven Democratic voters filed a lawsuit in federal district court contending that Michigan's 2011 state legislative and congressional maps are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs argue that the legislature unconstitutionally marginalized Democratic constituencies by cracking and packing Democratic voters while efficiently spreading Republican voters across safe Republican districts.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to strike down the maps and establish new maps if the legislature does not pass a constitutional redistricting plan.

The defendant, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, asked the court to stay proceedings in the case pending the Supreme Court’s decisions in Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone, which the court denied. The defendant also argued that the court should dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims for lack of standing if the court does not stay the proceedings.  

On April 6, 2018, several members of Congress filed a notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, challenging a ruling from the panel that denied their request to intervene. A decision on the appeal is pending.

On May 16, 2018, the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of standing in part and denied it in part, dismissing the plaintiffs' statewide claims but holding that the plaintiffs had standing to bring district-specific claims.

The court set oral argument on any summary judgment motions for November 9, 2018. Trial is set to begin on February 5, 2019. 

Key pleadings for League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Johnson can be found here.

Ohio:  Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute v. Smith (formerly known as Ohio A. Philip Randolph Inst. v. Kasich)

The Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and a group of Ohio Democratic residents filed a federal lawsuit challenging the 2011 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander on First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I grounds.

The plaintiffs argue that Republicans, who controlled the redistricting process in 2011, drew a map designed to give the party an unfair partisan advantage, drawing twelve reliable Republican districts and packing Democratic voters into four districts. The plaintiffs contend the map disfavors Democratic voters based upon their political affiliation and entrenches partisan advantage.

The plaintiffs have also pointed to public support for redistricting reform as relevant to their request for the maps to be enjoined. On May 8, 2018, Ohioans approved Ballot Issue 1—a reform measure that will govern the congressio­nal redistricting process in 2021—with nearly 75% of the vote.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to have the congressional map redrawn before the 2020 elections. The parties have agreed to a schedule that would set trial for March 4, 2019.

Key pleadings for Ohio A. Philip Randolph Inst. v. Smith can be found here.

Racial Gerrymandering

North Carolina:

In addition to the three North Carolina partisan gerrymandering cases discussed above, two cases contend that North Carolina’s 2011 legislative and congressional maps were racial gerrymanders, and one challenges the constitutionality of a 2017 remedial map.

North Carolina v. Covington

In North Carolina v. Covington, North Carolina asked the Supreme Court to reverse a ruling from a panel of three federal judges that 28 of the state’s legislative districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

On August 15, 2016, the panel unanimously agreed with the plaintiffs that the 2011 state map was designed to weaken the influence of black voters by unnecessarily increasing the percentage of black voters in districts where they had previously been successful in electing their candidates of choice.

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court and remanded the case to the trial court to reconsider the proper remedy. In September 2017, the state filed with the district court the remedial plan adopted by the North Carolina legislature.

After holding a hearing on the remedial plans, the court appointed a special master to prepare a report and redraw two senate districts and seven house districts that the court believed were legally infirm.

On January 19, 2018, the court approved the state’s 2017 plan as modified by the special master. On January 23, the legislative defendants filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court, as well as an emergency motion to stay the district court’s decision pending the Supreme Court’s review.

On February 6, 2018, the Supreme Court granted the application for stay in part and denied it in part, freezing the revisions to state legislative districts in Wake and Mecklenburg County pending appeal, but allowing other changes to go into effect.  

On June 28, 2018, the Supreme Court affirmed in part the lower court’s order, upholding changes made to remedy racial gerrymandering but reversing the changes made to two state districts redrawn by the legislature in other parts of the state.

Key pleadings for North Carolina v. Covington can be found here.  See the case pages for Dickson v. Rucho and North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches v. Lewis for related litigation and developments.

Dickson v. Rucho

Dickson v. Rucho is a racial gerrymandering case that arises from a state court challenge to North Carolina’s 2011 congressional and legislative maps.

In Dickson, the plaintiffs contend that North Carolina’s maps violated state and federal law and were racially gerrymandered. The plaintiffs allege the legislature used a racial proportionality target in order to determine the number of majority-minority districts that would be drawn and required that each district meet a fixed 50% black voting age population percentage target. The legislature attempted to justify its actions as necessary to avoid violating sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

In a 4-2 decision, the North Carolina Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that complying with the VRA was a compelling interest for the legislature when drawing its maps and ruled that the challenged districts were constitutional.

The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which vacated the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision and remanded the case for further consideration in light of its decision in Cooper v. Harris.

In turn, the North Carolina Supreme Court remanded the case to the Wake County Superior Court to determine whether the case is now moot in light of Cooper v. Harris and North Carolina v. Covington, whether there are other issues that require resolution, and whether other relief would be proper.

On February 11, 2018, the Wake County Superior Court entered a judgment in the case holding that challenged districts in the 2011 congressional and legislative plans were unconstitutional but ruling that no further remedy could be offered by the court since the 2011 maps had already been redrawn. The court declared all of the plaintiffs’ remaining claims moot. 

The legislative defendants filed a notice of appeal on March 14, 2018, seeking review by the North Carolina Supreme Court or, in the alternative, the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Key pleadings for Dickson v. Rucho can be found here.

North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches v. Lewis

Wake County residents and a number of civil rights organizations in North Carolina filed a challenge in state court to four state house districts in Wake County that were drawn in the 2017 remedial redistricting plan as a result of North Carolina v. Covington. The plaintiffs argue that the newly drawn districts violate the state constitution’s prohibition against mid-decade redistricting. The plaintiffs claim that lawmakers went beyond what the federal court directed in Covington and altered districts that did not need to be redrawn to remedy the racial gerrymandering identified in that earlier case.

On February 21, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a preliminary injunction to enjoin the defendants from conducting elections in the four state house districts and to return the districts to their 2011 boundaries for the 2018 elections.  

On April 13, 2018, the court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. The court’s decision preserves the district boundaries drawn by the North Carolina legislature in Wake County for the 2018 election.

On May 1, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to declare that the Wake County house districts in the 2017 remedial plan violate the state constitution’s prohibition against mid-decade redistricting. On November 2, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and ordered the NC General Assembly to revise the plan for use in the 2020 general election. 

Key pleadings for North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches v. Lewis can be found here.

Virginia: Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections

In Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, African-American voters are challenging legislative districts that they claim unconstitutionally packed African Americans. 

The district court ruled that race was a predominant factor in the drawing of one of the state’s African-American districts in the 2011 House of Delegates map, but the legislature’s reliance on race was justified because of the state’s need to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The three-judge panel held that race was not a primary consideration in the design of 11 other challenged districts despite the legislature’s imposition of a 55% black voting age population floor for those districts.

On March 1, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-2 decision that the panel had applied the wrong legal standard when concluding that race had not predominated in the drawing of the 11 challenged districts. The Court held that the panel had improperly required plaintiffs to show, as a precondition, that a challenged district was inconsistent with traditional redistricting principles. According to the Court, plaintiffs in racial gerrymandering cases could establish the predominance through a variety of direct and circumstantial evidence and that, even if a district otherwise complied with traditional redistricting principles, it could still be found unconstitutional if evidence established that race was the predominant factor in its creation. The Court remanded the case to the trial court to evaluate the districts under this standard.  

On June 26, 2018, the district court ruled in a 2-1 decision that the eleven challenged state house districts were racially gerrymandered. The court ordered the General Assembly to create a remedial map by October 30, 2018. 

Key pleadings for Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections can be found here.

Combined Gerrymandering Theories, Voting Rights Act Claims, and Prison Gerrymandering Claims

Georgia:

In Georgia, two parallel cases challenging the Georgia’s 2015 mid-decade state house plan have been consolidated on the grounds that both cases assert claims on closely related legal theories.

Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Georgia

Last April, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP filed a complaint against the State of Georgia contending that Republican legislators engaged in both racial and partisan gerrymandering when they executed a mid-decade redistricting of the state’s house map. The lawsuit focuses on two state house districts, which the plaintiffs claim Republicans redrew in 2015 to protect white Republican incumbents and deny African-American voters an equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice. The plaintiffs are asking a three-judge panel to declare these two districts unconstitutional, order them redrawn, and impose preclearance requirements on Georgia for the next ten years.

On August 25, 2017, the court dismissed the plaintiffs' section 2 and partisan gerrymandering claims. The court’s order did not address the plaintiffs' racial gerrymandering claims, which remain pending.

On November 1, 2017, the court consolidated this case with Thompson v. Kemp.

On June 1, 2018, the court denied the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction.

On September 4, 2018, the court granted the plaintiffs' request to amend their complaint to include partisan gerrymandering claims. 

Key pleadings for Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Georgia can be found here.

Thompson v. Kemp (formerly known as Brooks v. Kemp)

Eleven Democratic voters filed a lawsuit against the State of Georgia claiming that the 2015 state house plan violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs claim that Republicans in the General Assembly redesigned two state legislative districts – House Districts 105 and 111 – during a mid-decade redistricting to dilute African-American voting strength. The group also contends that Republicans improperly failed to draw a legislative district in the Atlanta area that could have elected an African-American candidate, and that House Districts 105 and 111 are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to invalidate the districts and order the creation of at least one additional majority-minority district in the metro Atlanta area.

Defendant Brian Kemp filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ discriminatory intent claim and violation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act claim and raised standing objections. On February 23, 2018, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ discriminatory intent claim and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the violation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act claim.

On June 1, 2018, the court denied the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Key pleadings for Thompson v. Kemp can be found here.

Dwight v. Kemp 

Four African-American Georgia voters allege that the state’s 2011 congressional plan violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The suit argues that instead of creating an additional majority-minority district in response to the significant minority population growth between 2000-2010, the legislature cracked “politically cohesive and geographically compact” African-American communities in and around the Twelfth Congressional District to minimize their political influence. In doing so, the plaintiffs allege, the map dilutes African-American voting strength and has the effect of denying African Americans the equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the plan violates section 2 of the VRA, enjoin the state from using the map for future elections, and order the state to adopt a new plan that complies with section 2 of the VRA, including creation of a district in southeastern Georgia where African Americans have the opportunity to elect preferred candidates.

Key pleadings for Dwight v. Kemp can be found here.

Texas: Abbott v. Perez

Individual voters in Texas, alongside organizations representing African Americans and Latinos, filed a series of lawsuits in 2011 alleging Texas’ congressional and state house plans violated the U.S. Constitution and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Several of these suits were later amended to include claims regarding replacement maps adopted by the Texas Legislature in 2013.

On March 10, 2017, the panel issued a ruling on challenges to the 2011 congressional map. The court’s 2-1 decision held that four districts in the plan were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders and that the creation of TX-35 could not be justified by a need to comply with section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The panel also ruled that Texas had unconstitutionally and intentionally packed and cracked minority voters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and in the creating the configuration of TX-23 in the 2011 congressional plan. However, the court rejected intentional vote dilution claims related to the greater Houston area.

On April 20, the panel issued a 2-1 decision that several districts in the 2011 state house plan were the result of an intentional effort to dilute the voting power of minority communities, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. The court also ruled that several districts violated one-person, one-vote requirements and that one district in San Antonio was a racial gerrymander.

The court has not yet ruled on requests that Texas be placed under section 3 preclearance.  

The court held trial on the 2013 state house and congressional plans on July 10-15, 2017. On August 15, 2017, the court issued a ruling on the 2013 congressional map holding that TX-27 and TX-35 violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. In addition, the court found that enactment of the 2013 congressional plan was intentionally discriminatory. On August 24, 2017, the panel issued an opinion finding that the 2013 state house plan violated the Constitution and Voting Rights Act and, in addition, purposefully maintained discriminatory features in the 2011 plan.

The court instructed the State of Texas to indicate whether it would hold a special session on redistricting to redraw the congressional and state house plan and, in the event the state chose not to redistrict provisionally, set a remedial hearing for early September 2017.

The state appealed the rulings on the congressional and state house maps and requested a stay of the remedial process. The Texas Democratic Party and Quesada plaintiffs also filed appeals of the court's earlier rulings dismissing its partisan gerrymandering claims.

The Supreme Court granted the state’s request to stay the remedial processes and agreed to hear the State of Texas' appeals of rulings on the congressional and state house plans. On January 16, 2018, the Court dismissed the Quesada plaintiffs' and Texas Democratic Party's partisan-gerrymandering appeal.

On June 25, 2018, in a 5-4 decision, the Court reversed the lower court’s findings that the state legislature intentionally discriminated against Latino and African-American voters in adopting the 2013 congressional and state house maps. In addition, the Court reversed findings of violations of the Voting Rights Act and racial gerrymandering, holding that only one of the challenged state house districts, HD90, was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

On August 30, the panel deferred redrawing the boundaries of HD90 to the legislature, but will require the legislature to submit any remedial plan by the 45th day of the 2019 regular session. The court also set a briefing schedule to address plaintiffs’ request for bail-in under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act

Key pleadings for Abbott v. Perez can be found here.

Virginia: Vesilind v. Virginia Board of Elections

In Vesilind v. Virginia Board of Elections, a group of citizens filed a lawsuit alleging that Virginia’s 2011 legislative districts violate the state’s constitution. The plaintiffs argued that the General Assembly improperly subordinated the constitutional requirement of compactness to achieve other political objectives, such as political advantage and incumbent protection.

On March 31, 2017, after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded the case for further proceedings, a Richmond Circuit Court judge issued a ruling upholding the constitutionality of the challenged districts. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court, and, on October 24, 2017, the court granted their petition of appeal. The court held oral argument on March 1, 2018.

On May 31, 2018, the state supreme court upheld the circuit court’s ruling.

Arkansas: Larry v. Arkansas

An Arkansas voter filed a lawsuit alleging that the state legislature intentionally drew the boundaries of the First Congressional District to dilute African-American voters’ opportunity to elect their candidates of choice and to discriminate against those voters because of their race. The suit argues that the legislature cracked and packed the First Congressional District to dilute African-American voters’ voting strength. The plaintiff is asking the court to enjoin the state from using the current congressional plan in any elections and to require the state to adopt a new plan. The plaintiff is also asking the court to suspend the congressional primaries until a new map is approved.

On April 23, 2018, the court granted the state’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment claims for lack of standing. The court convened a three-judge panel to adjudicate the plaintiff’s section 2 claim.

On August 3, 2018, the panel dismissed the plaintiff's section 2 claim for lack of standing.

Key pleadings for Larry v. Arkansas can be found here.

AlabamaChestnut v. Jones

Eight Alabama voters filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Alabama’s 2011 congressional map violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The plaintiffs argue the map packs African-American voters into the Seventh Congressional District and significantly cracks African-American voters between three other congressional districts, with the effect of diluting African-American voting. The suit alleges that the African-American population in the three “cracked” congressional districts is sufficient to form a second majority-minority district.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the map violates section 2 of the VRA and enjoin the state from using the current map in any further congressional elections. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to require that the state adopt a new congressional plan that includes a second majority-minority district.

Key pleadings for Chestnut v. Jones can be found here.

Louisiana: Johnson v. Ardoin 

Nine African-American voters in Louisiana are challenging the state’s 2011 congressional plan as a violation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Plaintiffs allege that the legislature packed African-American voters into the Second Congressional District and split African-American voters among three other congressional districts, rather than unifying them to create a second majority-minority district, thereby having the effect of diluting their voting strength and political influence.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the map violates section 2 of the VRA and enjoin the state from using the current map in any further congressional elections. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to require that the state adopt a new congressional plan that includes a second majority-minority district.

On July 31, 2018, the Secretary of State filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint.

Key pleadings for Johnson v. Ardoin can be found here.

Connecticut: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Merrill

The NAACP, along with the NAACP Connecticut State Conference and five Connecticut NAACP members are challenging Connecticut’s 2011 state legislative maps because of unconstitutional prison gerrymandering. The plaintiffs claim that counting prisoners as residents of their prisons as opposed to their last known home addresses violates the “one person, one vote” principle.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the map violates the Fourteenth Amendment and enjoin the state from using the current map in any further state legislative elections. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to require that the state adopt a new plan compliant with the Constitution.

Key pleadings for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Merrill can be found here.