The Supreme Court of Virginia has accepted a portion of an ongoing redistricting case, saying it will mull what correspondence legislators must release about their work drawing election maps, and what they may keep secret. The question is a key one before a lawsuit that targets nearly a dozen legislative districts over state constitutional concerns can move forward, but the high court’s decision could also set precedent when it comes to the release of legislative documents in court cases. Both sides – redistricting advocates connected to a group called OneVirginia2021 and state senators looking to protect emails under a legislative immunity clause in the Virginia Constitution – asked for the state Supreme Court to hear the matter. The broader case sits in City of Richmond Circuit Court. The high court’s decision, announced in a court order Wednesday, means the matter will skip the state Court of Appeals.
Justices said in their order that the case is “of such imperative public importance as to justify the deviation from normal appellate practice and to require a prompt decision.” Various briefs are due by July, and a hearing is expected in September.
This issue – what legislators must turn over when subpoenaed – has already been addressed in a separate redistricting case, which led to the redrawing of U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott’s 3rd Congressional District. But the U.S. Voting Rights Act, and its protections for minority voters, were at issue in that case, essentially trumping state law.
This case will turn off of state law, including the Virginia Constitution, not federal.
Full Article: SCOVA takes up legislative privilege case – Daily Press.