Strong reporting by “Breaking Through News” reporter Elaine Rackley, this time on the past week’s Virginia General Assembly special session on court orders to fix Virginia House Republicans’ illegal racial “packing.” First note that it’s only Democrats being interviewed, because although Republicans were asked, they refused to talk to “Breaking Through News.” Pathetic. As for the Democrats, a bunch of them lined up to explain what this special session was all about, what Democrats are trying to accomplish, etc. See below the video for a few highlights.
- Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) explained that Democrats “have introduced 87 redistricting reform bills,” while “Republicans introduced only 3.” Herring added that Democrats “are doing the hand that we’ve been dealt; the court on June 26 found these districts to be unconstitutional…there’s complete silence on the other side of the aisle – NOTHING…so yes, we took it upon ourselves to start moving because something needed to be done.“
- House Democratic Whip Alfonso Lopez said “it’s about time,” that “we’ve had four elections with…district lines that are according to the US federal district court and under the rules set down by the Supreme Court racially unconstitutional basically racial packing…It’s high time that we make these lines fair and it’s high time also that we have nonpartisan independent redistricting in Virginia.” “The fact that the courts have to force us to do the right thing to have fair maps in Virginia it’s a little upsetting and it’s about time we took care of it…one more election cycle without addressing this these unfair maps it’s too much time.”
- Del. Delores McQuinn (D-70th) said that “this begins a process that the court has ordered us to do” and that “today’s efforts [were] an attempt to address the court’s order.” “In the future, we’ll have a bipartisan group who would determine these things, and it would not be incumbent upon legislators to do. Right now it is…the ball is in our court; we’ve got to do it.”
- Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2nd) said “it was really troublesome…that Virginia had 11 districts that are racially gerrymandered…that is very offensive; it goes against our democratic principles.”
- Del. Roslyn Tyler (D-75th) said that “we started the process by beginning to draw maps that are going to be fair and equitable, but again these not the final conclusions.” “When you talk about the maps and the drawing of the lines when it’s unconstitutional, you want everyone to have equal representation. And when the court gives you orders you want to start the process and so that’s important and the fairness of it…”
- Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-31st) said that “this is not a party issue, this is about fair representation…I will definitely support independent representation so we can avoid things at what just happened today.”
My thoughts on this? Mostly, it seems to me like Virginia House Republicans are trying to run out the clock, while the unconstitutional, racially packed districts remain in force, and probably hoping for a Supreme Court that’s “packed” itself – with far right “justices” (using the word VERY loosely) like Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch – rules in their favor. The thing is, though, Republicans are taking a big risk, because if they don’t succeed in their legal appeals, they very likely will end up with a “special master” redrawing the lines, resulting in Democrats with 55 districts or whatever. Which would be fine with me, but I doubt that would make Republicans particularly happy.