Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cuccinelli wants Virginia Supreme Court to resolve congressional redistricting (opinion)

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

UPDATE from Brian Gottstein communications director in response to RFP question below: “Ultimately, if it’s decided that the GA does not have the authority to redistrict, it would then be left to the courts.”

In an explanation from Brian Gottstein, communications director for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli the Richmond Circuit Court  can’t decide whether Virginia’s General Assembly had the authority to pass their congressional redistricting plan in 2012 versus by end of 2011. (Yeah, huh? I say too.)

Does this leave the door open for the courts to redistrict?


Gottstein clarified that AG Cuccinelli DOES believe the GA had the authority. He also said that effectively with NO decision by the Richmond Circuit Court the non-decision leaves it that NO the GA did not have the authority.

Cuccinelli now wants the Virginia Supreme Court to immediately take it up and make a decision. Impending 2012 congressional elections leave candidates wondering where their constituents are.

For example Roanoke City stays in the 6th district with the passage of the House plans. The House plan made various line changes that will be moot if the congressional lines revert back to where they were. Then there is the corralling of the black vote in Rep. Bobby Scott’s 3rd congressional district that enraged Virginia’s Black Caucus. Six members of the Black Caucus one of which was Roanoke City Del. Onzlee Ware supported the House plan.

The Senate congressional redistricting plan had Roanoke City moving to Rep. Morgan Griffith’s 9th district. I don’t see how they can go back to 2011 when the Democrats had a Senate majority.

I speculate that the VA Supreme Court would have to rule either for the House plan or revert back to the original lines making the redistricting moot. (See UPDATE above)

Judge Richard D. Taylor wrote, “If the Court concurs with the Defendants’ proposition that the word ‘shall’ in Article II, Section 6, is discretionary, then the General Assembly will have limitless discretion to reapportion Virginia’s electoral districts in any year it chooses.”

Cuccinelli Press release:

RICHMOND (January 25, 2012) — Statement from the Office of the Attorney General, attributed to Brian Gottstein [communications director], except for the last paragraph, which is a quote from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli: 

Despite the circuit court’s opinion explicitly stating that it has not decided whether the General Assembly is divested of its authority to draw new congressional districts because it did not complete the task in 2011, the effect of the opinion is that the General Assembly is divested of such authority. 

Now that the General Assembly has passed – and the governor has signed -the congressional redistricting plan, the court can only act if passing the redistricting bill was beyond the legislature’s authority. Because the General Assembly clearly has such authority under both the United States and Virginia constitutions, the Richmond Circuit Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs’ claims. In fact, both parties to the suit agreed at the hearing that if the General Assembly still had the power to redistrict, the suit should be dismissed.

“Given the impending elections and deadlines associated with the federal Voting Rights Act, my office is seeking immediate intervention by the Supreme Court of Virginia,” said Cuccinelli. “We are filing a writ of prohibition, seeking a ruling that the circuit court’s ruling exceeds its jurisdiction. We are also seeking an immediate appeal of the order and a stay of further proceedings in the circuit court until the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2012, Elections, Politics, State Politics

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