The American Civil Liberties Union and the former state Common Cause president are asking a three-judge federal panel to take over the task of redistricting the Virginia House of Delegates for the November elections and impose a plan drafted by the ACLU.
In court papers to be filed Tuesday, lawyers for the ACLU and former Common Cause of Virginia president Bert Ely will argue that the House of Delegates has shown itself incompetent to handle the job. The court earlier had imposed a Feb. 1 deadline for the assembly to submit an acceptable redistricting plan.
The Justice Department rejected the General Assembly's latest and fifth House plan last week as racially discriminatory under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
"We're saying, 'That's the ball game,' " said Frank R. Parker of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and counsel for the ACLU. "The General Assembly has had its chance and now it's the duty and responsibility of the court to put into effect a court-ordered plan."
Ely, a financial consultant in Alexandria, said that, with Justice's latest rejection, there is no longer enough time for the House to come up with a new plan, submit it to the department and the courts for review, and still have it into effect before the Aug. 6 filing deadline for candidates who wish to run for the House this fall.
Noting that the battle over redistricting has gone on for more than a year, Ely added that he will argue to the court that "the time has come to bring this to a quick and merciful end."