This week the Wittman v. Personuballah trial began its time in the Supreme Court. Since Antonin Scalia’s recent passing, it is hard to predict the outcome of this case. The issue being tried is racial gerrymandering in the state of Virginia, primarily in Wittman County.
Wittman County is a primarily African American community. They are represented in the House by Representative Bobby Scott (D). Many citizens of Wittman County have sued the Commonwealth stating they were all corralled into a district to benefit Bobby Scott. The interesting part is, Bobby Scott is not the mastermind behind this scandal. Citizens believe “racist mapmakers” drew the lines to strip African Americans of any voting value in Virginia.
Bobby Scott is the only African American congressman in all of Virginia. Only 19.7% of the Virginia population is of African American descent. Over the last several decades the Commonwealth has seen rather predictable election outcomes. In the last election, 3/100 House seats changed, and 0/40 Senate seats changed.
Putting all African Americans in one district would solidify Bobby Scott’s seat, and keep black voters from possibly interfering with white friendly districts and elections.
Virginia has been referred to as “the most gerrymandered state in the U.S.” When map makers redrew the lines in 2011, they swore they were colorblind. The Voting Rights Act mandates that they take ethnicities into consideration when mapping out districts, but they did not use ethnicities to their advantage they claim. Currently, 75% of Virginia’s district lines are being challenged. If Wittman wins their Supreme Court case, we could be seeing an entirely new Virginia. Also, it will not assure anyone will keep their seat if they have an entirely new constituency.
In court defending the mapmakers is Michael Carvin. Carvin is regarded as the legal Donald Trump. He says whatever obnoxious and extreme ideas he has to in order to get his point across. He was also a lawyer in the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case regarding the Affordable Care Act. He did not fare well in that case, and things are not looking too promising for him in this case either. Had Antonin Scalia still be sitting on the bench, maybe. However, now he is facing the powerful and strict Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The case continues.