Richmond, VA - The following statement can be attributed to Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, ACLU of Virginia Executive Director, concerning today's decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordering the Virginia General Assembly to redraw the 3rd U.S. House district:

The ACLU of Virginia wholeheartedly supports efforts to protect fair representation for ethnic and racial minorities through the creation of majority minority districts.  We have long been concerned about the practice of packing African American voters into a limited number of districts in higher proportions than are necessary to assure racial fairness and preserve the ability of these voters to elect candidates of their choosing. Such action can dilute the influence that African Americans should have in the political process and the Congressional delegation given their nearly 20% representation among the Commonwealth’s population. In 2011, we proposed drawing the Congressional district lines to assure that there were two African American majority districts (the 3rd and the 4th Congressional districts) in which minority voters could elect the candidates of their choice.

Today’s decision makes clear that the legislature’s Congressional line drawing must withstand strict scrutiny and the district lines must be drawn carefully to protect and enhance, and not limit, the influence of African American voters. Clearly, the legislature’s districting plan adopted in 2011 did not meet this exacting test, and the lines must be redrawn, as the court has ordered, to achieve racial fairness.

It is clear that the redistricting process in Virginia is broken.  Reform is needed to ensure all Virginia voters get to choose their representatives rather than having legislators choose their voters.