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Dozen Virginia Voters File Suit Over House of Delegates Districts They Call “racial gerrymanders”

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Check out this lawsuit, filed by a dozen Virginia voters in the U.S. District Court (Eastern District; Richmond Division). Key points:

*”Plaintiffs bring this action to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia House ofDelegates Districts 63, 69, 70, 71, 74, 75, 77, 80, 89, 90,92, and 95 (the “Challenged Districts”) as racial gerrymanders in violation ofthe Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

*”During the2010-2011 redistricting cycle, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a House of Delegates Redistricting Plan (the “2011 Plan”) pursuant towhich each ofthe Challenged Districts was purposefully drawn to have an African-American voting age population that met or exceeded a pre-determined 55% threshold. As a result, African American voters were illegally packed into the Challenged Districts, thereby diminishing their influence in the surrounding districts.”

*”The General Assembly adopted the 55% racial threshold without justification, including any determination that the threshold was reasonably necessary to avoid retrogression ineach ofthe Challenged Districts orotherwise comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

*”Drawn with race as their predominant purpose, without compelling justification or narrow tailoring, the Challenged Districts cannot pass constitutional muster.”

*”Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the Challenged Districts are invalid and an injunction prohibiting the Defendants from calling, holding, supervising, or taking any action with respect to House of Delegates elections based on the Challenged Districts as they currently stand.”

Note that this lawsuit is for the Virginia House of Delegates, and comes following the October 2014 federal court decision that “Virginia’s congressional maps unconstitutional because they concentrate African American voters into a single district at the expense of their influence elsewhere.”

Yet again, these lawsuits point to the need for reform in the way districts are drawn, such as by a neutral, nonpartisan redistricting commission. What are the chances of that happening through the political process? Not good, to put it mildly. We’ll see whether the judicial system turns out to be a more effective option.

P.S. What’s truly sad is that  most Dems (Del. Patrick Hope being one notable exception) voted for this monstrosity. WHY?

  • sonofkenny

    Has to go through the assembly for that I am assuming

  • FreeDem

    Remember way back when, in the long ago, when this was voted on by the General Assembly and then Delegate David Englin got into it in the comments here defending this mess?

    http://www.bluevirginia.us/dia

    Englin was a disgrace then, just took a while for his actions to catch up to him.

    Dems who voted against this who are still in the Assembly: Adam Ebbin (now State Senator), Patrick Hope, Ken Plum, and David Toscano.

    Remember, the GOP gerrymandering only went after a handful of Democrats (Armstrong, Miller, Abbott, Barlow, Shuler). It made a number of Northern Virginia Democrats safer by shifting Democratic precincts out of competitive districts held by Republicans. Clear example where the short sightedness of elected officials in Northern Virginia undermined the party statewide.

  • Richmond, VA – Earlier today it was announced that citizens from across the Commonwealth have brought forward a legal challenge to the redistricting of Virginia’s House of Delegate districts.

    “I believe the redistricting plan adopted by the General Assembly in 2011 was neither fair nor constitutional,” said Democratic Leader David J. Toscano. “I have not seen the specific allegations of the suit, but I welcome all efforts to overturn this unconstitutional plan. Constituents should choose their representatives rather than the other way around.”

    “Given the three-judge panel’s ruling, it is not surprising that the gerrymandering of the House of Delegates is being challenged,” said Caucus Chair Scott Surovell.  “It is unfortunate that the Federal Courts have to step in again to bring the House of Delegates into compliance with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, but Virginia has a long history of the ruling class trying to suppress electoral change and protect their power through contorted districts.”