Home Redistricting Del. Mark Levine, Who Strongly Opposed the VA Redistricting Amendment: “Sadly, it...

Del. Mark Levine, Who Strongly Opposed the VA Redistricting Amendment: “Sadly, it appears everything I predicted is coming to pass”

"Everyone who advocated for Amendment 1 is at fault here...I was up against millions of dollars in out-of-state Republican spending and some very naive Democrats who didn't believe me."

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The following is from Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria/Arlington), regarding how his predictions last year about the fatally flawed VA Redistricting Amendment – that we warned over and  over and over and over and over and over and over and over again not to support – sadly have come to pass.

Two years ago, I published my Primer on Gerrymandering, where I explained in detail what I thought would happen if we passed Amendment 1. You can see the relevant portions below. The original is https://markfordelegate.com/content/primer-gerrymandering

Sadly, it appears everything I predicted is coming to pass. The maps will be drawn by the Virginia Supreme Court — the GOP-appointed body which Republicans, OneVirginia2021, and sophisticated Amendment 1 advocates wanted to draw the maps all along:

https://www.virginiamercury.com/2021/10/08/va-redistricting-commission-implodes-as-republicans-reject-compromise-and-democrats-walk-out/?fbclid=IwAR00LaCT18JF-iibTi515qOTS7-A5mLW9tM5rxshtlLnAzAXXUAJSTB3isI

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/virginia-redistricting-partisan/2021/10/08/ea50060e-2872-11ec-9de8-156fed3e81bf_story.html?fbclid=IwAR3OOOtfSbIYuUkBBmLg6qkfbfBZWnRODQcDXpNGfQPu3smiLWioI5SSb8A

The only question left is whether the Virginia Supreme Court will be fair and at least follow the watered-down language which was the best I could get in the law (HB1255) in 2020:

“A map of districts shall not, when considered on a statewide basis, unduly favor or disfavor any political party.”

Although this weaselly sentence (“unduly”?) is a far cry away from my original proposal to have computers verify statewide maps fairly constitute the preferences of Virginia voters statewide — https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+ful+HJ143 – it remains our last and only hope that the Court will do their job and draw maps based on fairness and law, rather than on politics.

Sadly, there will be no requirement the Court either be transparent or adhere to the bipartisan agreement of special masters because my bill to require both of these–though it passed the House on a bipartisan basis–was defeated by my own State Senator Adam Ebbin in combination with mostly Republicans.

Given this, the Virginia Supreme Court is perfectly free now to be non-transparent and to have discussions among themselves and with secret outside parties in back rooms in order to draw maps without any public scrutiny.

But just because the Court can do everything on a partisan basis hidden from public view, they don’t have to. And we should encourage them not to, using maximum public pressure. Is it fair to publicly pressure a Court? It is, because the Court in this instance is acting like a political body, like a legislature. That’s what Amendment 1 gave them power to do.

If the majority of the Virginia Supreme Court chooses fairness and law, they will have my highest esteem. Indeed, it is my last remaining hope and prayer.

If they choose politics, there is unfortunately no appeal.

Everyone who advocated for Amendment 1 is at fault here, as is everyone from some Democratic Committees to the League of Women Voters, who refused to allow those of us who opposed the Amendment a fair opportunity to present our arguments publicly.

I did my utmost to warn folks two years ago. I spent a good deal of time and effort on it.

But I was up against millions of dollars in out-of-state Republican spending and some very naive Democrats who didn’t believe me.

Some Democrats trusted Republican goodwill over my warnings, considered radical and dire at the time. And I paid a political price I knew I would pay in being such a forceful advocate. But I didn’t enter politics to get re-elected. I ran for office to speak truth to power, even against my own personal interests.

I still pray my direst predictions don’t come to pass.

We must forcefully advocate the Virginia Supreme Court draw maps which reflect Virginia’s polity as a whole — maps which do not unduly favor either political party. That’s what my constitutional amendment — the one which didn’t pass — required. Virginia, based on past elections, is about 53-55% blue. State and Congressional District maps should reflect that fact.

I don’t want to be Cassandra.

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