The Washington Post

Redistricting lawsuit can continue, judge rules

A circuit court judge has determined that a lawsuit over congressional redistricting can continue.

A half-dozen Virginia voters filed a lawsuit in November asking state and federal courts to draw a new congressional map for 2012, alleging that the General Assembly had violated the state’s Constitution by not agreeing on new lines last year.

No hearing date has been set, according to J. Gerald Hebert, a veteran Alexandria based Democratic election law practitioner who filed the suit.

The General Assembly passed a controversial redistricting plan last week and sent it Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) for his signatures, though many Democrats opposed it.

The lawsuit also was filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, with the state’s top three Republican leaders — McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — named as defendants, along with three state election officials. No action has been taken on that case, according to Herbert.

The lawsuits point out that Article II, Section 6 of the Virginia Constitution states that the General Assembly “shall draw electoral districts ... in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.”

The lawsuit also notes that any Virginia redistricting plan must be cleared by the U.S. Justice Department to ensure that it complies with the Voting Rights Act, a process that can take “at least 60 days and often several months to complete.” The filing deadline for congressional candidates in the state is March 29.

Hebert said the six plaintiffs — two registered voters from Richmond and one each from Fredericksburg, Leesburg, Lorton and Chesapeake — approached him about filing the lawsuit.



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