Voters in a dozen Virginia House of Delegates districts have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a legislative map that they say illegally concentrates African Americans voters and therefore dilutes their influence. The lawsuit — first reported by the political blog Blue Virginia — was filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It follows an October decision by the court that declared the state’s congressional maps unconstitutional because they “pack” African American voters into a single district. Congressional Republicans have appealed that decision. Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said Wednesday that he was confident the state’s legislative map would withstand legal challenge.
“The House districts were drawn in accordance with all federal and state law, adopted with bipartisan support after more than a dozen public hearings and committee meetings and pre-approved by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department in accordance with the Voting Rights Act,” Howell said. He said the map was “publicly supported by a majority of African-American members in the House of Delegates.”
Attorney General Mark Herring (D), though a spokesman, declined to comment on the Dec. 22 lawsuit, which names the election commissioner and the Board of Elections as defendants.