The following letter was sent by Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria/Arlington) to the author (Jesse Wegman) of the severely flawed/error-filled NY Times op-ed, on Virginia’s redistricting amendment, that we wrote about earlier today. What’s really astounding is that a piece filled with such easily disproven falsehoods and mistakes could actually pass muster at the NY Times and get the green light for publishing. Have that paper’s standards really fallen this far? Were all their editors asleep for this one? Do they simply know nothing – and not care – about what actually happened her in Virginia? Now, let’s see if they respond to Del. Levine…but definitely don’t hold your breath, as the NY Times is *not* known for responding well to criticism, even when it’s 100% legitimate.
REQUEST FOR CORRECTION OF FACTUAL INACCURACY
Dear Mr. Wegman.
My name is Mark Levine. I am a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates. You stated in your article:
That statement is factually incorrect in BOTH its essential respects.
1) There was no law passed in the 2020 Session or at any other time in Virginia history “that would ensure racial and ethnic diversity on the commission”.
2) There was no law passed in the 2020 Session or at any other time “that would require the State Supreme Court . . . to appoint a special master to draw the maps using the same criteria as the commission.”
Perhaps you thought we passed such a law because the House and the Senate each passed DIFFERENT legislation on this topic in the 2020 Session. But under the Virginia Constitution, when the House and Senate cannot agree on the language of a bill, the bill dies. (The same is true in the US House and Senate.) In this case, the Virginia House and Senate didn’t agree. So all such legislation died.
You can search high and low. You will find NO bills that passed both chambers this session that did what you say we did. (And certainly no laws!)
There is no such legislation that passed both chambers. It simply doesn’t exist. That makes your statement factually incorrect and critically so.
Please issue the following ERRATA or a similar one on your editorial page (in the same location as your original op-ed.):
On March 28, in my opinion piece entitled “A World Without Partisan Gerrymanders? Virginia Democrats Show the Way,” I said the Virginia “Legislature passed laws that would ensure racial and ethnic diversity on the commission and would require the State Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority, to appoint a special master to draw the maps using the same criteria as the commission.”
My statement was incorrect. In fact, the Virginia Legislature did not pass such a law to ensure racial and ethnic diversity. Nor did the Virginia Legislature pass any law to require the State Supreme Court to appoint a special master to draw the maps.
Such legislation was proposed, but it did not pass.
I regret the error.
[In fact, as the patron of the amendment conceded in committee, because this “enabling” legislation did not pass, the Virginia Supreme Court would be free, if the constitutional amendment were passed by the voters, to gerrymander Virginia to the full extent allowed by federal law.
Many Virginia Democrats who oppose gerrymandering voted against the constitutional amendment precisely because it allows the gerrymandering we oppose.]
Please contact me to discuss this. Since it’s a factual error — as opposed to a difference of opinion — I expect you should have no problem correcting it.
My private cell is _______.
Delegate Mark Levine
45th District of Virginia