Morgan Riley via Wikimedia Commons

Senate Democrats petitioned the Supreme Court of Virginia this week, requesting the justices disqualify the Republican Party’s redistricting master nominees.

They accuse the three nominees of “disqualifying conflicts of interest.”

A letter from the Virginia Senate Democratic caucus calls on the court to replace the GOP’s appointees with “unbiased” nominees. Only then, they argue, can the high court and supposedly objective experts draw fair state legislature and congressional maps.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

“We urge the Court to reject the minority leaders’ nominees and direct them to resubmit new, unbiased nominees. We do not send this letter lightly, but these three nominees cannot lawfully serve and their mere nomination undermines public confidence in these critical, once-a-decade proceedings to redraw Virginia’s electoral maps,” Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw wrote to the clerk of the high court on Monday.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters last year called for a bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts with new census data. The effort ended in a partisan deadlock last month and, under the amendment, the job went to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The high court asked leaders of both parties in the House of Delegates and Senate to nominate three qualified special masters — from which the court would pick two — to assist the justices. Saslaw’s letter contends that the Democrats’ nominees have academic backgrounds and experience as redistricting special masters in Virginia and elsewhere unlike the Republican nominees.

In response, Jeff Ryer, spokesman for the Republican Senate Caucus, wrote in an email to the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “the Democrat nominees for special master are all extreme-left academics with well-demonstrated records of considering one and only one criteria when it comes to drawing district lines: What will benefit Democrats most. These desperate and brazenly transparent efforts by Senate Democrats — who are responsible for the current tortured lines of Senate districts — to influence and direct the Supreme Court of Virginia are inappropriate, outrageous, and shameless.”