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Posted on on January 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

If the Republican Governor of Virginia does not veto this stealth-State-law the courts ought to do it, and if the partisan courts don’t, a way must be found for the Federal Government to intervene.


Hubris in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Published: January 24, 2013

The dark art of statehouse gerrymandering reached a new low in Virginia this week. Senate Republicans in Richmond used the absence of a Democratic member, who traveled to the presidential inauguration, to ram through a surprise redistricting map patently designed to aid the G.O.P.’s grab for majority power in the next election.

The chamber is divided 20-20 between the parties. A redistricting plan had been adopted after the 2010 census. But no sooner had Senator Henry Marsh III, a black civil rights leader, left for the inauguration on Martin Luther King’s Birthday than the Republicans pounced like street thugs to limit debate to 30 minutes and pass their shabbily partisan ploy by a vote of 20 to 19.

Like most states, the Virginia commonwealth has a long history of political eye-gouging in the pursuit of voting maps that boost the careers of one party’s members while keeping voters in the dark. But the Republicans’ blitzkrieg was breathtaking as they dredged up an innocuous House bill, grafted their remapping scheme onto it, and rushed it to the floor without any notice to the public.

The Republican House is expected to approve the changes, which would make eight of the state’s 40 Senate districts — including six held by Democrats — more heavily Republican. At the same time, more Democrats would be packed into three solidly Democratic districts. Republicans laughably argued that the remapping was needed to meet civil rights laws for fairer minority representation — this despite the party’s statehouse history of blocking Congressional redistricting plans bolstering minorities.

The Senate maneuver created such instant scandal that even the Republican governor, Robert McDonnell, had to admit, “I certainly don’t think that’s a good way to do business.” He can best make his point by vetoing the remapping as a piratical exercise in legislative hubris.

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