The Supreme Court struck down 11 of 12 Virginia state legislative districts on Wednesday, ruling unanimously that a lower court erred in deciding those districts were not racially gerrymandered.
The court's opinion, delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said the district court misapplied the law because of a misunderstanding of previous Supreme Court decisions regarding the criterion to establish racial predominance and because of incomplete consideration of the Virginia legislature's motivation.
Bethune-Hill v. Virginia Board of Elections pitted Democratic superlawyer Marc Elias, who previously worked for Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign, against Paul Clement, an attorney who several conservatives wanted to see on President Trump's Supreme Court short lists. Tuesday's decision serves as a win for the Democrats, and the case is headed back to a lower court.
Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas issued concurring opinions and wanted the high court to go further in its opinion. Alito wrote that he wanted all of the districts at issue to satisfy the strict scrutiny legal standard, while Thomas wrote that he thought all 12 of Virginia's state legislative districts at issue amounted to unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.