As the General Assembly has been debating plans to draw new legislative lines for the state Senate and House of Delegates this week, the two political parties have traded accusations that the plans devised by their opponents do not meet legal requirements.
Which raises one of the most intriguing and, as of now, unanswered questions in the process: What does Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) think?
Once the plans are adopted and signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), it will fall to Cuccinelli to secure approval of the plans from the U.S. Justice Department or the U.S. District Court of D.C. under the Voting Rights Act. Virginia and eight other southern states with a history of discrimination are required to get preclearance of their maps to show they do not dilute the voting strength of black voters.
It would also usually fall to Cuccinelli to defend the plans in court in the case of almost inevitable lawsuits challenging their legality.
That could be awkward for Cuccinelli in the case of a lawsuit against the plan adopted by Senate Democrats over Republican objections, which will likely be the subject of a GOP-funded lawsuit.
So far, we have few answers.
Cuccinelli has not yet offered any public comments about whether he believes the plans are legally defensible.
We do know this much, however: the attorney general doesn’t plan to challenge the Voting Rights Act itself.
Cuccinelli took some heat in December when he said he believed Virginia had “outgrown” the need to have its plan precleared for racial fairness.
But spokesman Brian Gottstein reiterated Friday what he had indicated then: However Cuccinelli may feel about the law’s requirements, he does not plan to challenge them.
“Attorney General Cuccinelli has no plans to file suit to object to the VRA requirements,” Gottstein said in an email.