Veto: Governor McAuliffe questions constutionality of redistricting bills

constitutionGovernor Terry McAuliffe this morning vetoed six bills related to redistricting during his monthly “Ask the Governor” appearance on 1140AM WRVA. They are Senate Bill 1237, Senate Bill 1084, Senate Bill 986, House Bill 1699, House Bill 1417 and House Bill 1332.

The Governor issued the following statement explaining his vetoes. The legal reasoning is identical for each of the six bills.

“Legally, there is some question of the bill’s constitutionality. According to Article II Section 6 of the Virginia Constitution, “The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.” Proponents of the bill would argue that this language directs the General Assembly to redistrict every ten years, but contains no limitations on the power of the legislature to redistrict in other years. However, in the case of Little et al v. Virginia State Board of Elections, the Richmond Circuit Court interpreted this language to “limit the General Assembly’s authority to reapportion Virginia’s electoral districts after the year 2011” (page 15). This finding by the Court raises serious concerns about the bill’s constitutionality and increases the risks of costly and time-consuming litigation.

“Furthermore, this bill sets a terrible precedent. Allowing the legislature to make substantive changes to electoral districts more frequently than once a decade injects further partisanship into a process that I regard as already too partisan. Annual legislative arguments over redistricting and gerrymandering distract the Commonwealth from the serious challenges we face, as well as undermine the trust of our citizens in their government.

“Accordingly, I veto this bill.”

 


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