News of Note: Watchdogs Urge Court to Review Partisan Impact of Va.’s Proposed Remedial Redistricting Plans

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The Campaign Legal Center filed an amici memorandum on behalf of Common Cause and New Virginia Majority in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, urging a three-judge court to select a remedial congressional redistricting plan that effectively remedies the unconstitutional racial gerrymandering that the court previously found present in a plan that had been passed by the Virginia Legislature.

Last year, the court declared Virginia’s congressional map unconstitutional because race predominated the creation of the majority-black Third Congressional District.  After the Virginia General Assembly failed to enact a remedial plan, the federal court announced that it would proceed to draw a new plan and a number of remedial redistricting proposals have been submitted to the court by a variety of interested parties.

The memorandum filed today by Common Cause and New Virginia Majority submitted an analysis of the proposed plans undertaken by professors of political science, Robin Best, Jonathan Krasno, Daniel B. Magleby, and Michael D. McDonald at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Their analysis found that some of the proposed plans do not result in partisan gerrymanders, while several other plans are partisan gerrymanders. The Memorandum urges the court to weigh the partisan impact in its selection of a remedial redistricting plan to avoid imposing a map that is infected with extreme partisan bias.

“To ensure the integrity of congressional elections in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is vitally important that the new maps avoid both racial and partisan gerrymanders in keeping with U.S. Supreme Court precedent,” said J. Gerald Hebert, Campaign Legal Center executive director. “The new plan must resolve the existing racial gerrymander that the court ruled unconstitutional and further must comply with the Voting Rights Act, as well as the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions.”

“In state after state where Legislatures and party insiders have drawn their own political districts, we see how We the People have been silenced in elections,” said Kathay Feng, Common Cause’s national redistricting director.  “We call on the court to establish a new standard for fair redistricting that counts all voters, of every partisan stripe.”

To read the memorandum and appendix, click here and here.

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