Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Va.

Virginia could well elect another Black representative to Congress when a new redistricting map is drawn, Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Va., told The (Newport News, Va.) Daily Press recently.

Last October, a panel of federal judges ruled that Virginia’s General Assembly had illegally packed African-American voters into one congressional district, effectively diluting their political power. Legislators drew a map that increased the number of Black voters in the 3rd District—which Scott represents—from 53 percent to 56 percent.

The Legislature was tasked with undoing the unconstitutional gerrymandering, and the distribution of an estimated 100,000 African Americans to other districts could lead to another Black face in Congress, Scott said.

The legal challenge to the original redistricting plan was brought by Democratic plaintiffs who said Republican lawmakers had used an old standard in the Voting Rights Act—which requires a preponderance of African Americans or other minorities in certain districts to ensure their votes would count—to diminish the widespread influence of those voters.

But the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder, which stymied certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, means that another VRA standard would have to be used in redrawing the congressional map, Scott told the Press. That standard says there needs to be enough—not a majority of—minority voters in a district to ensure they are given a fair chance at electing their candidates of choice.

Lawmakers or the courts may redraw the 3rd District—which encompasses Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk and Portsmouth—to comprise around 40 percent minority voters instead of 56 percent. If so, then another district centered in Richmond, Va., where Black voters gain a substantial voice, potentially could be created, Scott added.