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Virginia Politics
Posted at 03:42 PM ET, 02/24/2012

Democrat drops lawsuit over Virginia Senate control

A Virginia state senator on Friday dropped a lawsuit against Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) that had been intended to block a GOP takeover of the state Senate.


Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), right, greets Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) on the opening day of the General Assembly session. (Tracy A. Woodward - The Washington Post)
Democratic Caucus Chairman A. Donald McEachin of Henrico filed the lawsuit in December, seeking a declaratory judgment that Bolling did not have the constitutional right to vote on matters of Senate organization.

It also sought a temporary injunction preventing Bolling from voting on organization until the issue was resolved. The judge turned down McEachin’s request for an injunction before the session began, and Bolling went on to cast tie-breaking votes that allowed Republicans to take control of crucial Senate committees in the evenly divided chamber.

Even after Republicans took control of the Senate, McEachin said he would continue to pursue the lawsuit both to clarify the limits of the lieutenant governor’s voting authority, and to possibly reorganize the chamber later in the Senate term. But on Friday, McEachin dropped the case.

“I think it’s an unnecessary distraction both for the caucus and the AG’s office,” said McEachin, who retained his right to re-file the case.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, who represented Bolling, announced that the lawsuit had been dropped.

“From the beginning of this case, it has been clear that the lieutenant governor has the right to vote on senate organization and break other ties, unless the Constitution of Virginia limits the vote to members elected to the senate,” Cuccinelli said in a prepared statement. “That will still be true if another suit is filed, and therefore, we will seek dismissal of any new suits.”

Bolling said he was pleased that McEachin had dropped the suit.

“We felt the case was without merit and we were encouraged by the court's earlier rulings that seemed to uphold our position,” Bolling said in a written statement. “Hopefully, Senator McEachin’s decision is an indication that we can move beyond issues such as this and focus on getting the people's business done in the final days of the legislative session.”

By  |  03:42 PM ET, 02/24/2012

 
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