The speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates said Friday that he will not redraw congressional district lines while appeals are pending in a federal court case that deemed the map unconstitutional for diluting the influence of African American voters. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia last year ordered the Virginia General Assembly to remake the map by April 1, but congressional Republicans quickly appealed the ruling. House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said initiating the redistricting process could create confusion if the Supreme Court reverses the lower court. “The Virginia House of Delegates fully intends to exercise its legal right to attempt to remedy any legal flaw ultimately found by the courts with respect to the current congressional districts,” Howell said in a statement Friday. “However, we believe it would be inappropriate to act before the defendants have fully litigated this case. We are confident that a stay will be granted.”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said Howell’s wait-and-see strategy will not change the reality that the map is illegal and must be redrawn.
“Governor McAuliffe is concerned that House Republicans will forgo Virginia’s opportunity to draw a sensible, nonpartisan map that complies with the court’s ruling in advance of the deadline the court clearly set. Running out the clock will not make the current unconstitutional map any more legal, but it will inject unnecessary legal uncertainty into what should be a straightforward process,” Brian Coy, McAuiffe’s spokesman, said in a statement.