Between the Lines: Federal Redistricting Lawsuit in Virginia Dismissed

One of two lawsuits filed by Virginia residents over the General Assembly's inability to complete Congressional redistricting last year was dismissed in federal court Friday. According to the office of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed the case brought by six residents in part "based on its finding that the recent actions of the General Assembly in passing a new redistricting rendered the case moot." The decision came one day after the state House of Delegates unanimously approved a bill that would push back the Congressional primaries from June 12 to Aug. 21 — a move requested by Cuccinelli in reaction to the lawsuits. The emergency bill must be passed by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). A second lawsuit was filed by six other state residents in the Richmond Circuit Court, which will hold a hearing today on motions for summary judgment in the case. Both lawsuits argued that the General Assembly did not fulfill its state constitutional duty to complete the Congressional redistricting process in 2011, and therefore the courts must draw the new lines. The General Assembly, with split party control, deadlocked on redistricting last year. After Republicans won control of the state Senate in November's elections, the Republicans' favored map was passed and signed by McDonnell last month. The new lines give the GOP a strong opportunity to hold eight of the state's 11 districts. That plan still awaits preclearance from the Justice Department or a federal court to comply with the Voting Rights Act.