Just two weeks after Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) sought a stay from the Eastern District Court to the judicially-mandated remedial redistricting process, the three-judge panel denied the request and released a report by the “special master” re-drawing the legislative map, proposing no fewer than 36 potential combinations for a remedial solution. Still, the Republican leader has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter, with the case Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune Hill (2019) set for briefing and oral arguments in the Spring.
“I am disappointed the Eastern District Court chose not to stay the process of developing a remedial map,” Speaker Cox said in a press release on Friday. “The further development of a remedial map will cause great confusion for candidates, election officials, and voters, as is evidenced by sheer number of combinations presented by the Special Master.”
Speaker Cox sent a 33-page request to the Eastern District Court in late November, adding that moving the date of the primary elections for the House of Delegates would be “fair and reasonable for all parties – especially the voters.”
The Republican speaker of the Virginia legislature prodded the Supreme Court to consider “paradigmatic” errors made by the district court in their decision to declare 11 House districts unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered. Cox argued that the previous court ruling committed a “clear legal error,” with him explaining that race was not the predominant factor in the drawing of the 11 challenged districts in the Richmond and Hampton Roads metropolitan areas.
“We will review the report of the Special Master as we determine our next steps and continue our appeal with the pending case before the United States Supreme Court. Ultimately we believe the current map, which as adopted by a bipartisan majority, will be upheld,” the speaker said. “Regardless of what the map looks like, we are confident that we will protect and grow our majority in 2019 because of our proven track record of governing and strong candidates.”