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Demonstrators at a rally. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

A panel of federal judges on Tuesday handed down a decision against racial gerrymandering in Virginia, ruling that 11 legislative districts drawn by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates during the 2011 redistricting process are unconstitutional and discriminate against African-American voters.

"Overwhelming evidence in this case shows that, contrary to this constitutional mandate, the state has sorted voters into districts based on the color of their skin."
— Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote in the majority opinion.

Why it matters: The plaintiffs have argued that African-Americans, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, were packed into certain districts to dilute their political influence and make surrounding ones more winnable for Republican candidates. In its 2-1 ruling, the court gave lawmakers until Oct. 30 to redraw the district lines.

The backdrop: Republicans argue that they used the 55% African-American voter threshold in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

  • The VRA was meant in part to allow minorities to elect candidates of their choice. However, in recent years Democrats have argued that Republicans are using the act to justify packing too many minorities in districts.
  • Meanwhile, as the Washington Post points out, this argument sometimes creates tension between minority groups and some black incumbent Democrats, who want to ensure that their “majority-minority” districts are safe for reelection. But other Democrats, and liberal advocates, want to disperse minority voters to increase the party’s ability to win more elections.

What they're saying: Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who's leading a national group to undercut Republicans’ sweeping control of the redistricting process in key states, said African-American voters have long "had their voting power diluted and their voices diminished. That will now change."

  • Marc Elias, a Democratic lawyer representing the voters challenging the districts, lauded called the ruling a "big win for voting rights” in the state.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) plans to file "a prompt appeal" to the Supreme Court.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the House of Delegates, a drop from 66-34 after a hotly contested election last November.

Go deeper

Poll: U.S. leadership approval rebounds from Trump low

A Gallup report published Tuesday found approval of United States leadership in 46 countries and territories hit 49% — up from 30% at the end of Donald Trump's presidency, and matching former President Obama's first year (2009).

Why it matters: Biden's efforts to reengage with the international community following the Trump administration appear to be improving the global approval ratings for U.S. leadership, though this poll does not take into account the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

These technologies could bring America to net zero emissions by 2050

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The newest section of a project from Third Way, the Bipartisan Policy Project and Clean Air Task Force examines how energy breakthroughs could accelerate America's transition to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: The report chapter, provided first to Axios, is part of a broader effort known as the Decarb America Research Initiative, which explores the best ways to move the U.S. toward a net zero carbon emissions future by 2050.

"No-code" miracle for startups

Expand chart
Data: Interactive Advertising Bureau; Table: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has reached a tipping point in its shift from the industrial economy — one that relied on the buildout of hardware — to an information economy that relies on the transfer, storage and implementation of data, according to a new report.

Why it matters: This shift towards a data and information-based economy has allowed more businesses to establish themselves and scale quickly and at a very low cost. As such, the number of jobs created by the commercial internet has more than tripled since 2012.