From the Virginia House Democratic Caucus:
House Democratic Leader Renews Call for Redistricting in Letter to Speaker
Second letter sent to Cox requesting special session follows new court order issued last week
(Richmond) – On Monday, Virginia House Democratic Leader David Toscano sent a letter to Speaker Kirk Cox requesting a special session to redraw 11 districts deemed by the courts to be racially gerrymandered. The letter follows a court order issued last Thursday by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, requesting that the House Republicans state whether they intend to comply with the court’s suggestion that the General Assembly redraw the districts by October 30 this year. The House Republicans have until August 24 to respond to the order.
Delegate Toscano sent anon July 16 calling on the Speaker to convene a special session after the courts gave the General Assembly the opportunity to redraw the unconstitutional districts. The Speaker did not respond to Delegate Toscano directly, and House Republicans have proceeded with their Supreme Court appeal of the District Court’s ruling.
In his most recent letter, Delegate Toscano outlines the trajectory of the litigation, which began in 2014, and references a previous lawsuit in which the Supreme Court rejected the Republican-majority House’s proposed map of congressional districts. He asks Speaker Cox to reply to him by August 17.
He writes, “For these reasons, I propose that we move expeditiously to reconvene the General Assembly to draw new maps that can pass the constitutional tests set forth by the U. S. Supreme Court and recognized in the June 26, 2018 decision of the U. S. District Court. Since we are presently in session, all that needs to be done is to modify the procedural resolution so we can take up new maps.”
He then emphasizes the short deadline and necessity to act quickly, stating, “The Court has given us until August 24 to tell them if and when we will act. October 30 is looming. We have a constitutional responsibility to draw fair district boundaries and do it as quickly as possible. We should move forward without expending more taxpayer monies on this case.”
The House Republicans have spent over nine million dollars of taxpayer money in defense of multiple gerrymandering lawsuits. They have also repeatedly killed Democratic bills proposing the establishment of an independent commission on redistricting, as well as updated criteria.