Virginia Supreme Court to decide State Senate documents case

virginia general assemblyThe Supreme Court of Virginia will decide on Tuesday if six former and current Virginia state senators will pay over $60,000 in fines for refusing to obey court orders.

The state senators are arguing that the scope of their legislative privilege extends beyond correspondence with staff or other legislators and includes communications with outside consultants and national political parties. If SCOVA rules against the state senators, they will be forced to turn over their correspondence with the outside consultants that were used in 2011 to redistrict Virginia.

This dispute is in the discovery phase of the lawsuit brought by Virginia citizens, who contend Republicans and Democrats ignored the constitutional compactness requirement in favor of political gerrymandering. Eleven districts were chose as part of this suit – districts drawn and occupied by both parties. The House of Delegates is already compliment with the lower courts order to turn over their documents

“This is an unprecedented move to keep documents secret. It makes us wonder what they don’t want us to see,” said Wyatt Durrette, a former Republican candidate for governor and lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

If the state senators lose their appeal, they will be able to pay their fine with taxpayer money.

The six former and current state senators are:

  • Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax)
  • Senator George L. Barker (D-Fairfax)
  • Senator David W. Marsden (D-Fairfax)
  • Senator John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke)
  • Former Senator Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William)
  • Former Senator Ralph Smith (R-Roanoke)