A recently filed lawsuit seeking to redraw Virginia House district boundaries has surprised and sparked concern among some of the Democratic African-American lawmakers. Filed in December by a law firm with ties to both national and state Democrats, the suit argues that state Republicans illegally packed black voters into a dozen House districts when it drew new district lines in 2011. But many of the African-American lawmakers who represent those districts said they weren’t consulted about the lawsuit before it was filed. “We certainly weren’t told. It would have been good if someone had shared with us that they had this great concern,” said Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Chesterfield County. The lawmakers said they wanted to make sure any effort aimed at redrawing is comprehensive, not focused solely on areas with large minority populations. “We should take into consideration the entire state, not areas that’s just totally dominated by black populations,” said Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-Sussex County.
Redistricting has been a hot topic in Virginia, a purple state where Democrats hold all the state-level elected offices but Republicans have sizeable majorities in both the state’s congressional delegation and in the House of Delegates. Many incumbent state House members in both parties, including those listed in the lawsuit, face limited opposition in general elections because they represent districts that tilt strongly Republican or Democrat.
The lawsuit was filed by Perkins Coie, a law firm often used by Democrats around the country on campaign and redistricting matters, on behalf of private citizens in each House district. Attorneys at the firm did not respond to requests for comment.