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Let's say that a state has 30% of its population be a racial (or ethnic, depending on what you consider a race or ethnicity) minority. It has 4 congressional districts, and all of its representatives in Congress are white Republicans and the minority population in the state overwhelmingly votes Democratic, and the district could be theoretically drawn in a compact way.

Often the VRA is interpreted as saying that a certain racial minority needs to have over 50% of the adult population. But what I am asking is can such a suit be brought with a reasonable chance of success that tries to draw an "all minorities" district where non-Hispanic whites make up less than 50% of the voting-age population but without a single nonwhite majority or even plurality?

Note: this question might be better on Law Stack Exchange, but it's also a political question.

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  • Voting districts are drawn based on the total population, not "adult population" or "voting-age population". And, I think by "the district could be ...", you may mean "a majority-minority district could be ...".
    – Rick Smith
    Feb 3 at 22:25

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Potentially. Several circuit courts have ruled in favor of such an interpretation of Section 2 of the VRA - by which minority groups could be aggregated for the purposes of drawing a district - while some have ruled against it. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue, and until such a case reaches the court, a conclusive answer is not possible.

An article in Fordham Law Review by Kevin Sette, entitled Are Two Minorities Equal to One?: Minority Coalition Groups and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act identifies two precedents in the Fifth & Eleventh Circuit which provide explicit acceptance of this interpretation: League of United Latin American Citizens, Council No. 4386 v. Midland Independent School District in which Hispanic and Black voters successfully challenged the existing districting plan, and Concerned Citizens of Hardee County v. Hardee County Board of Commissioners, in which the court agreed that “two minority groups may be a single section 2 minority if they can prove political cohesion”. Political cohesion was not proven in this case though, so the overall claim failed.

On the other hand, in Nixon v. Kent County in the Sixth Circuit, it was reasoned that because of the “clear and unambiguous language” of Section 2, in referring to a protected class rather than classes Congress had not intended minority coalitions to be protected. The court’s conclusion reads:

The language of the Voting Rights Act does not support a conclusion that coalition suits are part of Congress' remedial purpose and, as previously discussed, there are compelling reasons to believe that they are not.

Ultimately, until either an amendment is passed by Congress which explicitly allows minority coalitions, or the Supreme Court rules on the issue, this question remains up in the air.

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