A circuit court in Richmond dismissed a lawsuit against Virginia’s new map of congressional districts Monday, clearing one of the last remaining hurdles to the plan becoming law.
A group of Virginians filed suit in November in state and federal courts, contending that the General Assembly had failed in its constitutional duty by not approving new districts in 2011. The General Assembly approved a map in January, which generally bolstered all of the state’s current incumbents, and Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) signed it.
While the plaintiffs in the case argued that the Virginia Constitution clearly states that the lines had to be drawn in 2011, asking that the courts step in and draw a new map instead, the state contended that the General Assembly had some leeway in the matter and that the courts had no role in the line-drafting process.
“We are pleased that the court has granted our motion for summary judgment,” state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) said Monday in a statement issued by his office. “As we have said from the very beginning, both the U.S. Constitution and the Virginia Constitution provide that redistricting is a matter to be handled by the General Assembly.”
A lawyer for the plaintiffs had not responded to a request for comment as of this posting.
The state court’s decision came two weeks after a federal court in Alexandria dismissed the related case. But the legal process isn’t quite over.
Virginia is still waiting for the U.S. Department of Justice to affirm that the new congressional map comports with the Voting Rights Act. Because the filing deadline for candidates is a month away, the state House has approved a bill that would move the congressional primary from June 12 to August 7 if the Justice Department does not approve the lines by April 3.