Following the June 26 ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, wherein a three-judge panel decided that 11 House of Delegates districts had been drawn with the purpose of concentrating African-American voters, Republicans in the Virginia legislature have sought a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to delay a requirement that the state must redraw legislative district lines by the end of October. Members of the state’s GOP have argued that the ruling from the lower court is incorrect and the legislative districts are not drawn in a discriminatory fashion against African-Americans.
The 11 districts in question are in the Hampton Roads and greater Richmond area. However, if the changes to the districts go through, the redrawing of the boundaries will alter of the demographics of at least 22 surrounding legislative districts. When the boundaries were drawn after the 2010 Census, Republicans controlled the House, with that delegation drawing the House district boundaries, and Democrats controlled the Senate, with that delegation drawing the Senate district boundaries.
The lower court’s 2-1 decision handed a political victory to Democrats, whom wanted the districts redrawn to favor them in next year’s election in an attempt to take back the House of Delegates which now has just a one-member Republican majority.
On Monday, Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal due to the lower court’s “incorrect conclusions,” according to The Washington Post. Speaker Cox said, “The district court erred by ‘ignoring objective evidence of neutral redistricting decisions’ and by ‘discarding first-hand testimony…in favor of theoretical and post-hoc expert opinions about motive.'”
While the case is in the appeals process, House Republicans have asked the Court to postpone the redesignation of district boundaries, which are to be completed by October 30. The motion states that changing the current legislative boundaries, “will result in voter confusion and disruption to the primary process.” Republicans argue that revisiting the districts will constitute an “immense waste of scarce resources” if the appeal is won.