cloudyn.png
Friday August 19th, 2022 3:32AM

Judges toss suit seeking Virginia House elections this year

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A three-judge panel dismissed a federal lawsuit Monday that sought to force all 100 members of Virginia’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates to face an unscheduled election this year.

U.S. District Judge David Novak, joined by two other judges, ruled that Paul Goldman, an attorney and longtime Democratic Party activist, lacked standing to pursue the lawsuit he filed last June. Goldman had argued that House members elected for two-year terms in November 2021 must run again in 2022 under newly redrawn maps that properly align legislative districts with population shifts.

The 2021 elections should have been the first held under constitutionally required redistricting based on the 2020 census. But because census results were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state held elections under the old legislative boundaries; new maps weren’t finalized until December. Goldman argued that deprived Virginians of their constitutional voting rights, violating the “one man, one vote” principle outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judges ruled Goldman did not have standing as a voter or a potential candidate and granted Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares' motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Goldman did not prove that he suffered an “individualized disadvantage" from residing in an underrepresented House of Delegates district, the 31-page opinion and order said. Instead, it said Goldman, a Richmond resident, had benefited from over-representation.

“In fact, had the new maps been in place in time for the election, they would have weakened Plaintiff’s vote,” the court wrote.

Miyares praised the ruling, saying the 2021 elections were “legal and constitutional.”

"Record numbers of Virginians went to the polls to vote and had their voices heard. I’m glad that the court agreed with my office, that there is no more uncertainty for voters and legislators, and that we were able to protect the sanctity of our 2021 elections,” he said in a statement.

Goldman said that the ruling effectively “slashes the right to equal representation in the state legislature” and leaves “important constitutional issues" unresolved. He said he was considering whether to appeal.

“Even though I think I can win the appeal, can you get a ruling in time to have an election in 2022?” he said.

Monday's ruling on standing comes after months of delays and voluminous briefings in the long-running case. Goldman, a former state Democratic party chair and former adviser to ex-Gov. Doug Wilder, brought the suit alone and has represented himself. Miyares' predecessor, Democrat Mark Herring, also sought to have it dismissed.

House members on both sides of the aisle had mostly been silent on Goldman’s legal fight, though a growing number of Democratic and voting and civil rights groups announced their support in recent months.

If Goldman had prevailed in persuading the court that new elections were needed, it would have thrown many lawmakers back into campaign mode and forced some of them to consider moving. Lawmakers must reside in the district they represent, and the new maps approved by the state Supreme Court were drawn without concern to where incumbents live.

Currently, Republicans narrowly control the chamber they flipped in November.

The court did say that voters who live in districts with populations larger than the ideal district “likely have standing, because they are underrepresented when compared to the ideal.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if a new legal challenge would be filed.

The Loudoun County NAACP said earlier this year that it was reviewing whether to file its own lawsuit. In a letter, the group said the use of outdated maps in the 2021 elections “suppressed the vote, diluted the voices and diminished the representation” of the group’s 637 members and thousands of county residents of color.

The group did not immediately respond to a voicemail left at its office or an email sent Monday.

Herring — who for months last year ignored a request for an official opinion on the matter — attempted to have the lawsuit thrown out on sovereign immunity grounds. Novak dismissed claims against former Gov. Ralph Northam and several other defendants but declined to dismiss claims against state elections officials.

Since then, much of the argument in the case has focused on Goldman's standing. In March, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the issue of standing back to the U.S. District Court to decide.

In October, before the matter had reached the 4th Circuit, a federal judge appointed a three-judge panel to handle the case. Monday's opinion said that the three-judge panel “collectively deciding the issue constitutes the most efficient process” for handling the case.

The judges said the case had “languished for far too long,” blaming both the defendants' “efforts to engage in piecemeal litigation” and Goldman's “unorthodox (and occasionally improper) filings.”

Novak wrote the opinion and was joined by U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker and Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson. Novak was nominated by former President Donald Trump and Thacker and Jackson by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, respectively.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General House Election News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Israeli coalition suffers loss, faces uncertain prospects
The Israeli government has failed to pass a bill extending legal protections for settlers in the occupied West Bank
5:11PM ( 27 seconds ago )
Judges toss suit seeking Virginia House elections this year
A three-judge panel has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to force all 100 members of Virginia’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates to face an unscheduled election this year
4:47PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Weakened UK leader Boris Johnson survives no-confidence vote
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a no-confidence vote, securing enough support in his party to remain in office despite a rebellion that will likely weaken him as a leader and casts a shadow over his future
4:47PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Nigerian forces hunt for gunmen who killed 50 at church
Authorities in southwestern Nigeria say the gunmen who killed 50 people at a church opened fire both inside and outside the building in a coordinated attack before escaping
4:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
In blow to Biden, Mexico president to skip Americas Summit
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has confirmed that he will not attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles this week, dealing a blow to the event hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden
4:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy in Capitol riot
The former top leader of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group and other members have been charged with seditious conspiracy for what federal prosecutors say was a coordinated attack on the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory
3:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
An infamous day. A search for answers. Will America tune in?
A congressional committee’s hearings on the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection are coming up, and the public has been told to expect revelations
9:02AM ( 8 hours ago )
Doctor named in abortion case has nothing to do with lawsuit
Dr. Thomas Dobbs has never gotten involved in political fights over reproductive health, but his name has become shorthand for a legal case that could end abortion rights in the United States
8:35AM ( 8 hours ago )
Gunmen at Nigeria church shot from both inside and outside
The gunmen who attacked a church during Sunday Mass in southwestern Nigeria opened fire inside and outside, killing at least 50 people
8:24AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Trump's Ukraine impeachment shadows war, risks GOP response
Even the staunchest defense hawks in the Republican Party stood virtually united by Donald Trump’s side when the then-president was impeached in late 2019 after pressuring Ukraine’s leader for “a favor” and withholding $400 million in military aid
12:02PM ( 1 day ago )
Digital currencies flow to campaigns, but state rules vary
Cryptocurrency donations have become a big part of campaign fundraising for many candidates running for office across the U.S. this year
11:35AM ( 1 day ago )
Cambodians vote in local election amid intimidation, threats
Cambodians are voting Sunday in local elections that are their first chance to go to the polls since the ruling party of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen swept a 2018 general election that was widely criticized as unfair
12:36PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections
Cuellar, Cisneros runoff in Texas is too close to call
The Texas primary runoff between Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar and his progressive challenger, Jessica Cisneros, was too close to call Wednesday, more than a week after the election
2:17PM ( 5 days ago )
Vermont likely to elect its 1st woman to Congress this year
Vermont appears poised to lose its distinction of being the only state in the country that has never sent a woman to Congress
6:55PM ( 1 week ago )
Progressive ousts Biden-backed Schrader in Oregon primary
Seven-term U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader has lost the Democratic primary in Oregon to progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner
6:55PM ( 1 week ago )
General House Election News
Israeli coalition suffers loss, faces uncertain prospects
The Israeli government has failed to pass a bill extending legal protections for settlers in the occupied West Bank
5:11PM ( 32 seconds ago )
Weakened UK leader Boris Johnson survives no-confidence vote
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a no-confidence vote, securing enough support in his party to remain in office despite a rebellion that will likely weaken him as a leader and casts a shadow over his future
4:47PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Some in Ga. GOP want closed primaries after Trump picks lose
Some Republican activists are calling on abolishing Georgia’s open primary system
4:44PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Biden orders emergency steps to boost U.S. solar production
President Joe Biden has ordered emergency measures to boost crucial supplies to U.S. solar manufacturers
4:37PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Mickelson the last to sign up for Saudi-funded golf league
Phil Mickelson is ending his 4-month hiatus from competitive golf and is joining the Saudi-funded rival league
4:32PM ( 39 minutes ago )