Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Virginia redistricting lawsuits in full swing

Gov. McDonnell vetoed the redistricting bill, and plaintiffs marched into Federal Court on Monday and Tuesday.  In my opinion these lawsuits are still premature as the Gen. Assembly needs to have another chance to send a bill to the Governor before we accept that this exercise is futile.  Nonetheless, by filing now these litigants ensure themselves a position driving redistricting litigation if now plan is ultimately passed.

Lawsuit number 1 - they’re back!

Out in the Western District of Virginia the same folks who filed and had their case dismissed in February filed a nearly identical Complaint on Monday.  Here is the Complaint.

The Plaintiffs are Henry Lee Carter and Gregory M. Yates.  According to VPAP, Gregory Yates is a high dollar (almost $60K) Democratic donor (with some Republican donations thrown in).  According to VPAP, Henry Lee Carter is a high dollar (a little over $16K) Democratic donor.  Counsel in the case is Gerald Hebert an expert in election law who has a personal history of Democratic donations.

The Complaint sues the SBE directly, and sues the AG and the Lieutenant Governor.  It is my opinion that none of those people or entities need to be included.  Otherwise, it appears these folks know what they are doing.  In my opinion the proper parties are the members of the SBE and perhaps the Governor.

Lawsuit number 2 - new to the party

In the Eastern District of Virginia some, on Tuesday, new litigants have filed a Complaint to invalidate the 2001 redistricting plan as well.  The Complaint is here.  The Motion to convene a three judge panel is here.  
The Plaintiffs are Jana Burch, Gary Bullis, and Jerome Burke.  Jana Burch does not appear to have a VPAP donor history.  Gary Bullis appears to be a minor ($630) Republican donor.  If this is the same Jerome Burke, he is a minor ($800) conservative Republican donor.  Counsel, Charles E. Adams appears to be a minor Republican donor. 

The complaint sues the “Virginia Board of Elections” and the members of the SBE in the official capacity.  It is the “State Board of Elections,” but the difference in name is irrelevant.  The Complaint is verbose, but otherwise it appears these folks also know what they are doing.

What does this mean?

It means that if the General Assembly and Governor still cannot pass a plan, then a handful of Democrats and Republicans, and the AG’s office, will be arguing with a handful of judges to decide the lines to be drawn for November 2011.  There is plenty of time for more people to file lawsuits, so we will see who dominates the debate in the Courts in another few weeks.

For other redistricting posts, primary sources, and other information regarding the Virginia Redistricting process in 2011 please see The Road to Redistricting Litigation in Virginia.

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