Supreme Court to Rule on Virginia Redistricting Case This Fall

Aug 30, 2016

This fall the Supreme Court will weigh in on whether race unfairly played a role when the lines were drawn for some Virginia House of Delegates seats.

The Supreme Court has been taking up a lot of redistricting cases of late, and their rulings have had an immediate impact. That’s why all eyes are on the Virginia case they’ll hear this fall. The case hinges on whether Republicans unfairly used race in drawing a few House of Delegates seats - basically making so called majority- minority districts that civil rights groups claim tamp down the power of minorities. Northern Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly says he's glad the Court is hearing the case.

“I think it’s very important and I think it’s an ominous sign from my friends of the other side of the aisle that they went too far and they’re gerrymandering to guarantee themselves almost a two thirds majority at the expense of voters.”

Virginia Democrat Don Beyer says having the Court weigh in on Virginia’s lines already made an impact this year, because an earlier decision at the congressional level forced Republican Congressman Randy Forbes out of his Fourth District seat and he lost a primary for the Second District seat.

“We clearly saw that the redistricting at the federal level had an immediate impact. We’re gonna probably get a Democrat, Don McEachin in the Congress to replace Randy Forbes.”

Virginia Republican Scott Rigell is retiring and has tended to be more moderate than his Virginia colleagues. He favors having a third party draw the lines.

"I am a strong advocate for an independent commission and I say that knowing that it won't be a perfect solution. There will always be great controversy associated with this.”

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Rigell decries the sharp partisan divide that marks Congress. He says partisan redistricting has only made things worse in the past couple decades.

“To get to where the process is truly impartial is fanciful, there's always going to be this these force coming against one another, Republicans and Democrats trying to get an advantage but I believe that hyper redistricting and that's the environment we are in across the nation has hurt us as a nation.”

But Virginia Republican Morgan Griffith disagrees.

“People have to understand, there is no such thing as a bipartisan commission, somebody has to appoint those people which means that whoever is getting to appoint those people, those people come with some political process or ideology.”

Griffith says the lines should be drawn in the ballot box, not by non-elected officials.

“They come with a political bias. It never works, it never has worked, and never will work. So let's just be honest about it, there's going to be some politics in it, and let the politics be played out on the stage, in front of the public, and then let the voters decide whether to not they think that's so disgusting they want to throw the people out who drew the plan."

As for the Supreme Court case, Griffith says race wasn't used unfairly. But he hopes the Court gives the legislature a clear roadmap.

"Having served in the legislation and worked very hard on redistricting in also in past, the Court just needs to give us clear rules, the Virginia House and Senate will do whatever the rules are.”

The case is slated for the docket when justices return to Washington this fall.