A recent lawsuit on the House of Delegates boundaries resulted in a court order to the General Assembly to redraw the lines by the end of October. A new standard of constitutional review in regards to the consideration of race in determining legislative districts is now being insisted on by the courts.
This week Republicans released a second plan that seeks to meet the requirements of the court. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Democrats say they still want to find a legislative solution. This is encouraging as Governor Northam had previously expressed the view that the courts should just redraw the lines. The same Times-Dispatch article seems to indicate some in Democrat circles were still debating if they should find a compromise or wait to see if they will get a better political outcome from the court.
Nationwide, there is an effort to take the ability to draw legislative district lines out of the hands of the legislative and executive branch and put it in the hands of unelected independent commissions. This is a valid public policy debate that can be voted on by your elected representatives.
More disturbing is the idea that political parties who did not control the redistricting process are running to the courts to overturn the results. And it is not just about the consideration of race. In Pennsylvania, the state supreme court struck down a Republican-drawn Congressional district map simply for being too partisan. A federal court did the same thing in North Carolina.
Turning our attention back to the Virginia House of Delegates map. It would be a complete abrogation of the duty of our elected representatives to simply toss this decision to the courts. The judges are simply not directly accountable to the people for the results.
The original plan was agreed to in a truly bipartisan fashion, with an overwhelming majority of Democrats supporting it. The General Assembly should produce a plan again. When they do, Governor Northam should sign it.
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