Governor Northam has called legislators back to Richmond on August 30 to redraw 11 house districts that the courts found to be racially gerrymandered to pack more African Americans into certain districts. The new map would take effect next year when all members of the House of Delegates and the state Senate are up for re-election. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch,
“It is in the public interest for the General Assembly to finalize constitutional maps as soon as possible – Virginians deserve that clarity,” Northam said in a news release. “I am calling a special session so we can focus our collective attention on doing what’s right: working together to draw lines that represent Virginians fairly.”
Republicans are asking for more time beyond the October 30th deadline to redraw the districts. Republicans have until August 24th to say whether or not they will comply with the deadline. House Speaker Kirk Cox issued the following statement:
“The House of Delegates will convene as constitutionally-required at Noon on August 30th, though we fully intend to continue to pursue both our request for a stay from the Eastern District Court and our appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
“In July, we asked the Eastern District Court to stay its October 30thdeadline pending an appeal to the United States Supreme Court this fall. The Eastern District Court has requested additional information from us by August 24th, and we intend to file a notice this week responding to that request and further supporting our request for a stay. We also plan to submit our full appeal to the Supreme Court by next month. The Special Session does not change our plans to pursue all the legal protections provided to us by Federal law and the Constitution.
“Drawing a map that can withstand legal scrutiny is neither a quick nor simple process. The General Assembly must establish criteria, hold committee meetings, and gather public input from across the Commonwealth. A bevy of federal redistricting cases has created a confusing set of conflicting standards and expectations, all of which must be met to satisfy the Courts. The Special Session called by the Governor gives him and Delegate Toscano the opportunity to present a redistricting plan and demonstrate a willingness to engage in a good-faith effort. We look forward to reviewing their proposal.”
The areas under scrutiny are in the Richmond area, Petersburg and Hampton Roads.