AG’s office to fight redistricting suit

The Supreme Court of Virginia on Tuesday denied a writ of prohibition and declined to grant an immediate appeal of a Circuit Court of the City of Richmond decision that refused to dismiss a challenge to the authority of the General Assembly to draw new congressional district lines.

In its order, the Supreme Court said the circuit court’s ruling was not sufficiently definitive to permit immediate review. The Supreme Court also explicitly declined to reach the merits of the underlying case at this time.

The attorney general’s office intends to do everything within its control to obtain an immediate, definitive, reviewable order from the circuit court.

“The elected representatives of the citizens of Virginia have passed a redistricting plan through the legislative process,” said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, “and we will continue to seek to protect the result of that process.”

Cuccinelli also appealed to the General Assembly to pass a bill containing an emergency clause to move congressional primaries to August.

“If this is not done,” Cuccinelli said, “congressional primaries currently scheduled for June may be disrupted if the new district lines are not approved by the federal government within the short timeframe remaining.”

A suit for judicial pre-clearance (federal approval) has already been filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the attorney general will also seek parallel administrative pre-clearance through the U.S. Department of Justice. Only one of the two parallel tracks needs approval. Prompt administrative approval through the Department of Justice would make the suit with the federal district court moot.

Virginia is one of 16 states required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to pre-clear changes in voting practices or procedures with the Justice Department.

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