Lawyers for Republican leaders in Virginia’s House of Delegates have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a court-ordered redistricting process as they appeal a recent ruling on racial gerrymandering. Attorneys working with House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, filed a notice of appeal with the high court on Friday, indicating they intend to fight an Oct. 30 deadline to redraw the House electoral map to correct racial imbalances in 11 legislative districts. Late last month, a federal panel made up of district and appellate judges ruled that the House violated the U.S. Constitution by packing African-American voters into certain districts already drawn to favor the election of African-American Democrats.
In addition to filing paperwork to appeal, the House GOP asked the Supreme Court to order a stay that could push back the creation of a new map. The timeline for how the case will proceed is unclear, but the legal proceedings could affect the map that will be in place for the 2019 General Assembly races that could determine party control of the state legislature.
The Republican majority had argued in court that they used racial thresholds while drawing the 2011 legislative map to comply with the Voting Rights Act protections that allow African-American communities to elect candidates they prefer.
The lower court had upheld the districts in an earlier ruling. But in early 2017, the Supreme Court instructed the court to reconsider the case using a narrower legal standard.