While Governor McAuliffe Advances Non-partisan Redistricting, VA Republicans Insist Virginians Keep Paying for the Pleasure of Voting in Unconstitutional Districts
Following the United States Supreme Court decision rejecting Virginia’s gerrymandered districts, Governor McAuliffe urged House Republicans to drop their defense of the invalid district lines and avoid protracted litigation at the expense of Virginia taxpayers. The Governor asked Republicans to work with him to pass a new non-partisan map that would empower voters and put the Commonwealth on the right side of history.
Unsurprisingly, House Republicans ducked calls for reform, in what has become their annual tradition to ensure that GOP legislators get to pick their seats instead of their constituents.This isn't a new strategy though. In 2010, Ed Gillespie was the Republican's gerrymandering puppet master that set up Republican domination of the U.S. House and state legislature for the rest of this decade.
Below is a roundup of coverage that both supports the Governor’s efforts and highlights Republican obstructionism:
The Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Those points do not change the fact that most of the seats in the state legislature are drawn to guarantee a certain outcome — and they nearly always do. The federal lawsuit against the districts charges that the system unconstitutionally subverts the voting rights of African-Americans by packing them more tightly than necessary into select districts. The broader point is that gerrymandering in general unconscionably subverts the voting rights of citizens generally."
The Daily Progress
“The power to draw voting districts rests in the hands of the incumbents, the political powerful. These men and women have demonstrated that they are more interested in protecting themselves and securing their next election than they are in protecting the democratic process. In some ways, the Virginia General Assembly is becoming even more entrenched as, year after year, gerrymandering strengthens the hand of the Republican power structure and, year after year, the Republicans use that power to strengthen themselves even further.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. That’s the response from Republicans who say they have a very strong case to make in court, and they’re ready to make it. Republican Speaker Bill Howell says Republicans will not be dropping their defense of the House of Delegates districts, which Democrats say unfairly marginalizes African-American voters.”
The Washington Post
“Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Thursday urged Republican leaders in the House of Delegates to stop defending legislative districts that are under legal challenge and work with him on nonpartisan redistricting. Republicans declined, accusing the governor of grandstanding one day after the U.S. Supreme Court told a lower court to reexamine Virginia’s redistricting efforts for signs of racial bias.”
“House Speaker William Howell, Majority Leader Kirk Cox and finance chairman Chris Jones told reporters Thursday they're confident in the 11 districts that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a day earlier must be re-examined. After the Wednesday ruling, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe sent a letter to Howell and Cox asking them to settle the lawsuit. He said the ruling set the stage for "protracted litigation" at taxpayers' expense and wants a nonpartisan panel to draw new lines.”
“Virginia, for example, has voted for a Democrat in all statewide elections the last four years, but its congressional split is seven Republicans and four Democrats. Before Democrats forced the redrawing of Scott's district and the surrounding changes allowed the 4th District to go to a Democrat, the split was 8-3.”
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