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Virginia Politics
Posted at 09:42 AM ET, 02/11/2012

Federal court dismisses Va. redistricting suit, state case still pending

A federal court dismissed a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s congressional redistricting plan Friday, handing the state a victory in one venue of a two-pronged legal battle. A similar suit in state court is still pending.

A group of Virginia voters filed suit in November charging the General Assembly with failing in its duty, as the state Constitution says that new district lines “shall” be drawn in 2011. The state House and Senate could not agree on a new map last year, but the Assembly did pass a Republican-authored map in January that was signed into law by Gov. Robert McDonnell (R).

On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria granted without comment a request by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) that the suit be dismissed; his office had argued that the court has no role to play now that a map has been finalized.

But a circuit court in Richmond ruled last month that the state lawsuit could continue, and the Virginia Supreme Court declined to grant an immediate appeal. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Monday.

As that legal case continues, the state is also waiting for the U.S. Justice Department to affirm that the new congressional map comports with the Voting Rights Act. The state House approved a bill this week that would move the congressional primary from June to August if the plan is not approved by March 20.

“We will continue to defend the law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McDonnell,” Cuccinelli said in a statement issued by his office. “We continue to work with the U.S. Department of Justice for its pre-clearance of the new districts under the Voting Rights Act and are prepared to litigate that question, if necessary. Our goal is that the will of the people, as evidenced by the votes of their elected representatives, be enforced and that orderly elections occur in November.”

By  |  09:42 AM ET, 02/11/2012

 
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