Virginia Supreme Court Rejects GOP Redistricting Nominees
RICHMOND, Va. — In a unanimous ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court on Friday rejected all three Republicans nominated to help it draw new legislative district maps based on 2020 census data.
The move is the latest development since a bipartisan commission failed to reach agreement on new congressional and General Assembly districts.
That placed the matter in the hands of the Supreme Court, which had asked both Democratic and Republican leaders in the state legislature to nominate potential “special masters” to assist in the process.
But in a letter to the court this week, Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, a Democrat, objected to all three Republican picks, pointing to their past paid work for the GOP as political operatives as evidence of conflicts of interest.
On Friday, the court agreed. Writing for the court, Chief Justice Donald Lemons said nominees for the mapping project “must be neutral and must not act as advocates or representatives of any political party.”
It ordered the Republicans to submit at least three new nominees by 5 p.m. Monday and also gave the Democrats the same deadline for submitting at least one additional nominee after one of the party’s current nominees expressed reservations about participating in the process.
The task of redrawing district maps in Virginia is being carried out under a new process approved by voters in a 2020 referendum.
The law created a bipartisan redistricting commission that in theory was supposed to submit new maps to the state legislature for approval.
But the commission failed to agree on a single map, with Democrats and Republicans on the commission evenly split on every proposal that came before them.
Wary Democrats, who opposed the 2020 referendum in the first place, are unhappy with how the process is playing out, because they believe the court leans in favor of the Republicans and that the maps the state will now wind up with create GOP majorities in both Congress and the General Assembly that will last for at least the next decade.
In its order Friday, the court tried to address those concerns, taking pains to emphasize that it wants to keep the process as free from partisanship as possible.
Once special masters are selected, it said, they “will not be permitted to consult with any political parties, partisan organizations, outside experts, or any other person or entity except for their personal support staff and individuals specifically authorized by this Court.”
If the parties nominate acceptable candidates on Monday, the court will appoint one special master from each side. They will then be given 30 days to work together and come up with a single set of maps for the court to review.
Dan can be reached at email@example.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue
In The News
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a Republican-drawn congressional map on Friday, giving hope to national Democrats who... Read More
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a Republican-drawn congressional map on Friday, giving hope to national Democrats who had argued it unfairly delivered several potentially competitive seats in this year's critical midterm elections to Republicans. In the 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court returned... Read More
RALEIGH, N.C. — A three-judge state superior court panel ruled Tuesday that new congressional and state legislative maps drawn by... Read More
RALEIGH, N.C. — A three-judge state superior court panel ruled Tuesday that new congressional and state legislative maps drawn by Republican lawmakers do not violate the state constitution and therefore can be used in upcoming elections. The panel, which included two Republicans, Wake County Judge Graham... Read More
COLUMBIA, S.C. — When a process occurs once every 10 years, perceptions of old wounds can lead to very long... Read More
COLUMBIA, S.C. — When a process occurs once every 10 years, perceptions of old wounds can lead to very long memories. A case in point is playing out in South Carolina, where Republicans in the state legislature are seeking to remove one of the federal judges... Read More
WASHINGTON — A day after the Virginia Supreme Court approved a new House district map that substantially redefines the area... Read More
WASHINGTON — A day after the Virginia Supreme Court approved a new House district map that substantially redefines the area she represents, Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced she’s all in for a reelection bid in 2022. “Nearly 200,000 Virginians in the new 7th District have already... Read More
LANSING, Mich. — Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., announced Tuesday that after seven years of representing Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, she... Read More
LANSING, Mich. — Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., announced Tuesday that after seven years of representing Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, she will move to the state’s newly drawn 6th Congressional District to pursue a re-election bid in 2022. Dingell, who has lived in the 12th Congressional District... Read More
TRENTON, N.J. — With a tiebreaking vote by a former state Supreme Court justice, the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission... Read More
TRENTON, N.J. — With a tiebreaking vote by a former state Supreme Court justice, the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission on Wednesday approved a new congressional district map seen as favoring the state’s Democrats. In the end, former Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, Jr. said after... Read More