On October 2, 2013, a group of Virginia voters filed a federal lawsuit against the Virginia State Board of Elections and the Attorney General of Virginia challenging the state's 3rd Congressional District as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. When Virginia redrew its congressional districts in 2012 following the 2010 census, changes were made to District 3 which raised its African-American voting age population from 53.1% under the old configuration to 56.3%. At the time the new plan was enacted, Virginia was a covered jurisdiction subject to preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and in its plan submission to the Department of Justice, Virginia explained that it shifted African-American populations from neighboring areas into the newly drawn District 3 in order to comply with equal population requirements and the non-retrogression requirements of Section 5 by retaining a similar level of minority voting strength therein. The Department of Justice granted preclearance to Virginia's submitted plan. On June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Shelby County v. Holder holding that the preclearance coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional, thereby resulting in Virginia no longer being a covered jurisdiction. Following that decision, Plaintiffs filed their suit alleging that the General Assembly's predominant consideration when redrawing District 3 was race and that compliance with preclearance requirements could no longer serve as a compelling state interest to justify the use of race as a predominant factor when redrawing districts. To that end, the plaintiffs sought a judicial declaration that District 3 under the 2012 plan was a racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, a permanent injunction barring the defendants from using District 3 as drawn in future elections, and for the court to take actions necessary to determine and order a legally valid congressional districting plan be adopted.

On October 7, 2014, the three-judge district court panel issued an opinion finding that the 2012 plan's District 3 was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The court found that race was the General Assembly's predominant consideration when creating the new District 3 and that the state's asserted justification of compliance with Section 5 was a sufficiently compelling state interest when the plan was enacted. However, citing the fact that District 3 had been a "safe majority-minority district" for two decades and the General Assembly's admitted "target" of a 55% African-American voting population for District 3 during the 2011-2012 redistricting cycle, the court found that the plan was not narrowly tailored to further the asserted interest in Section 5 compliance and ordered the state to enact a new congressional plan during its next legislative session. Several Virginia representatives, who had intervened in the case as defendants, appealed the district court's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court on October 30, 2014.

On March 30, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded the case back to the district court for further consideration in light of its recent ruling in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, which held that efforts to achieve equal populations among districts cannot serve as a predominant consideration when redistricting and that Section 5 did not require covered jurisdictions to maintain a particular numerical minority percentage in a given district, but rather to maintain the minority group's ability to elect their preferred candidate of choice. On June 5, 2015, the three-judge district court panel again held the 2012 plan to be an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, finding that the defendants failed to establish that their race-based redistricting satisfied strict scrutiny review and rejecting the defendants' uncontradicted argument that politics rather than race explained the plan. The district court ordered that a new plan be enacted and, on September 25, 2015, appointed a special master to draft a remedial congressional redistricting plan, which the court adopted on January 7, 2016. The intervening defendant members of Congress appealed the court's remedial order to the U.S. Supreme Court on March 4, 2016, and asked the Court to stay implementation of the Remedial Plan pending their appeal, but the Court declined to do so.

On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion dismissing the case after finding that the appellant members of Congress lacked Article III standing to pursue the appeal. Justice Breyer's opinion explained that because none of the congressional representatives bringing the appeal resided in the district at issue, District 3, they could not demonstrate that the redistricting plan harmed their interests in reelection, thereby meaning they lacked a cognizable injury necessary to establish standing. On June 20, 2016, the parties entered a voluntary stipulation of dismissal, which the district court granted two days later, bringing the case to a close.


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division - No. 3:13-cv-678 (Page v. Va. State Bd. of Elections)

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 14-518 (Cantor v. Personhuballah)

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 14-1504 (Wittman v. Personhuballah)