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The U.S. Supreme Court Monday allowed Virginia's election for members of the US House of Representatives to go ahead based on new congressional district boundaries set by a federal court.
In an unsigned order, the justices declined to put a hold on a decision of a federal appeals court panel that imposed a new map and adjusted the boundaries for five of the state's eleven congressional districts.
The appeals court said the earlier map, drawn by the state legislature after the last census, packed too many African-American voters into the state's only majority-black district, diluting their influence in the other districts.
The U.S. Supreme Court was already considering a challenge to the district boundaries when the appeals court acted.
The new map moves more than one million voters into a different district. Allowing it to remain will force the state to delay its general election for members of Congress, said lawyers for eight Republican members of Congress from Virginia.
If the Supreme Court rules later this year that the previous map is constitutional, forcing the state to change the district maps in the meantime would cause "electoral chaos, mass voter confusion, an immense waste of taxpayer and private resources" in addition to possibly forcing a delay in the election, the lawyers said.
But Virginia officials urged the court to let the state use the new map ordered by the appeals court.
Directing the state to use the old map would require Virginia officials to choose "between forcing a third congressional election using racially gerrymandered lines — violating the constitutional rights of 727,365 voters in the Third Congressional District for a third congressional election — or rushing to implement the district court's judgment so late in the election cycle as to cause the very electoral chaos that [Republican House members] say they want to avoid."