via Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court of Virginia has responded to state senate Democrats’ request that the Republican nominees chosen to assist the justices redraw the state’s legislative and congressional maps be replaced.

The high court agreed with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and has rejected the three so-called “special master” candidates.

Virginia Mercury reports:

The nominees, the justices said in an order this morning, will serve as officers of the court in a “quasi-judicial capacity” and therefore “must be neutral and must not act as advocates or representatives of any political party.”

The court ordered the Republicans to come up with three new candidates by Monday. It also dropped a Democratic candidate, who was not named, because of his stated concerns about working with another map-drawer as the process requires, and told party members they also had until Monday to come up with another nominee.

The decision came after outcry from Democrats that the Republican nominees had obvious conflicts of interest. “It troubles me that the Republicans would even try this,” says Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, who had served on the redistricting commission but resigned this week.

The court’s decision is the latest turn as the state struggles with a new regime to draw new legislative boundaries for state and federal races next year.  A bipartisan 16-member commission was created by a Constitutional amendment to move the process away from the secretive traditional method employed by the majority party in the General Assembly.