The measure would eliminate the corrosive and undemocratic gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts, creating a bipartisan commission to draw and approve the maps. As a constitutional amendment, it must be approved by the legislature a second time and then by Virginia voters in referendum. But some Democrats who voted for the measure in 2019, The Post’s Laura Vozzella reported, are having second thoughts.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) has said he will support the measure, but incoming Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) has been noncommittal. Democrats raising objections — including Del. Mark H. Levine (D-Alexandria) — say the measure was rushed through in the most recent session and deserves more thought. Please. The change of heart is not motivated by concern about legislative imperfections, many of which can be addressed by the separate enactment of enabling legislation. It was easy for Democrats to pose as pure-hearted reformers when Republicans were in control. Now that they are in control, they would be the ones to draw lines after the 2020 Census, absent a change in the law. Suddenly a system in which politicians can choose their voters, rather than the other way around, doesn’t seem so bad to them.
But turning their back on a reform they promoted and promised to enact would be the height of hypocrisy and opportunism. Particularly noxious is the court-demonizing excuse that Republican-appointed judges are in the majority on the state Supreme Court, which would resolve redistricting disputes under the new law. In fact, courts have a far better record than politicians in drawing maps that are fair to voters, rather than the party in power.
The General Assembly and Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should keep their word, pass this reform, and let the voters decide.