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Between the Lines: W.Va. Officials Petition Supreme Court on New Map

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Democrats plan to sue, alleging that the GOP map drawers didn't adhere to the state's new Fair Districts constitutional amendments that require lines to be drawn without "the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent."

The plan received significant Democratic support in the final vote, which may be a boon to GOP arguments when the map appears before a court.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith slammed the proposed map.

"With this vote the Senate has sent a chilling message to the people of Florida: safe districts are more important than Fair Districts," he said in a statement. "The Republican-led Senate has ignored Florida voters and, sadly, the courts will most likely be tasked with implementing the people's will."

Any final map must receive approval from the Department of Justice under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act before it becomes enforceable law.

Virginia: GOP's Preferred Map On Fast Track to Pass

With Republicans in total control of state government in Richmond, the party's once-stalled Congressional redistricting plan continues to progress through the legislative process.

A Virginia state Senate committee approved the GOP's bill Tuesday on a party-line vote. The bill shores up all 11 incumbents eight Republicans and three Democrats and includes one majority-minority district.

The plan is now on a fast track through the Legislature, with the June 12 Congressional primaries looming. The House of Delegates passed the bill easily late last week. A spokesman for the Senate clerk said the bill could hit the chamber's floor as early as Friday.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) has the deciding vote now that the parties have split control of the 40-seat Senate, and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is expected to sign the bill.

Democrats controlled the chamber prior to November's elections and had passed a Congressional redistricting plan that included one majority-minority district and one minority-influenced district. The House-passed plan includes only one majority-minority district, Rep. Bobby Scott's (D) 3rd district.

Missouri: Court Order to Review Map Boosts Carnahan

In a ruling that may help Rep. Russ Carnahan (D), the state Supreme Court has asked a lower court to determine whether the new Congressional map complies with the state constitution.

Carnahan saw his Congressional district essentially eliminated in the redistricting process and faces the prospect of either running in a Republican district or challenging a fellow Democrat.

Missouri was one of the first states to draw a new map, with the Legislature overriding a gubernatorial veto to approve it in May. With the state losing a seat because of national shifts in population, Carnahan was drawn into the 1st district, currently represented by Rep. William Lacy Clay (D).

A state circuit court dismissed two lawsuits challenging the new map on the grounds that the lines in particular the Republican-leaning 3rd district and the safe Democratic 5th district held by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver did not meet the state constitution's requirement that districts be as "compact" as practicable.

But the state Supreme Court ruled that "it was error" for the lower court to throw out those cases. In its opinion, the high court ordered the circuit court to hold a hearing to determine whether "the districts were drawn as compact as may be."

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