From Gov. McAuliffe’s office:
Governor McAuliffe to House Republicans: Drop Your Defense of Gerrymandered Districts and Work with Me on Nonpartisan Redistricting
In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on Virginia’s House of Delegates redistricting plan, Governor Terry McAuliffe sent the following letter today to House Speaker Bill Howell and Majority Leader Kirk Cox urging the Republican leaders to drop their legal defense of Virginia’s gerrymandered district lines and work with him to pass a nonpartisan redistricting plan. The full text of the letter is below. To read the Supreme Court’s 7-1 opinion click here.
March 2, 2017
The Honorable William J. Howell The Honorable Kirk Cox
P.O. Box 8296
P.O. Box 1205
Fredericksburg, VA 22404
Colonial Heights, VA 23834
Dear Speaker Howell and Leader Cox:
As you are no doubt aware, yesterday the United States Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s decision that upheld the Republican-drawn House of Delegates district map, and it ordered the lower court to review the case again using the correct legal standard.
Yesterday’s 7-1 ruling is the second consecutive adverse decision the Supreme Court has reached with respect to Republican-drawn legislative maps in Virginia. Last summer the Court ruled that our congressional district lines were an unconstitutional racial gerrymander that needed to be redrawn. Yesterday the Court clearly set the House of Delegates map, which was drawn using the same unconstitutional standard, on the same path.
This ruling sets the stage for protracted litigation at taxpayer-expense and further delay that will cast a shadow over our upcoming legislative elections — unless we find a more productive path forward. So today, I write to ask you and the House Republican Caucus to drop your defense of Virginia’s gerrymandered map and work with me on the nonpartisan redistricting plan our Commonwealth deserves.
To accomplish this, I ask that you agree to settle this litigation in a way that empowers the General Assembly to redraw the eleven House of Delegates districts that have been sent back to the District Court. Once that settlement is finalized, I am prepared to call a special session in order to pass new lines that have been prepared by an independent, nonpartisan panel. If we act quickly, we can finalize a new map before the 2017 legislative elections and prevent Virginians from voting yet again in unconstitutional gerrymandered districts.
For too long, the redistricting process has been defined by partisanship, racial politics, and costly litigation. Today we have the opportunity to reverse that history and put our Commonwealth on the right side of one of the most important issues of our time. I hope you will consider this request and join me in a nonpartisan process to strengthen democracy in Virginia.
Terence R. McAuliffe
Cc: The Honorable David Toscano