Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District winds along the James River, stretching 90 miles from Richmond to Hampton Roads.
But the 25-year effort to create and maintain a minority-majority district has run afoul of federal judges, who have ruled twice – in 1998 and 2014 – that Virginia unconstitutionally made race the predominant factor in drawing the lines.
In 2013, a new lawsuit – this one filed by Democratic voters – claimed the new boundaries of the 3rd District unconstitutionally harmed African-Americans by reducing their influence in surrounding districts.
Last year, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court found that the General Assembly erred by making racial considerations the predominant factor in drawing the lines. Because the General Assembly failed to meet a September 1 deadline, the court will issue a map that will bring the 3rd District into compliance for the next congressional elections, scheduled for November 2016.