This topic is monitored by Moritz Law Professor Steven F. Huefner
The drawing of district lines with the intent to disadvantage voters of a particular racial background is a violation of constitutional law. Laws that merely have the effect of discriminating against racial minorities, however, do not violate the U.S. Constitution. This distinction is important, because it means that minorities wishing to challenge laws that have a racially discriminatory impact must look to statutory rather than constitutional law as a basis for making their claim. The Voting Rights Act, originally passed by Congress in 1965 and amended in 1982, is one such statute, and it prohibits districting that has the effect of diluting the voting strength of minority voters, even if the districting was not motivated by any discriminatory intent. The enforcement of this prohibition against "minority vote dilution" has raised many important and difficult questions, as has an ancillary provision of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits "retrogression" of minority voting power in jurisdictions found to have engaged previously in racial discrimination with respect to voting rights.