The Supreme Court of Virginia will hear cases on just three days in its September session rather than four.
The change was announced Friday without explanation, but the shortened session appears designed to avoid uncertainty about the status of new Justice Jane Marum Roush.
Roush was a recess appointment by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. As such, her interim term normally would last through January, with a 30-window that month for the General Assembly to consider election to a full term.
The Assembly’s one-day, ineffectual Congressional redistricting session on Aug. 17, however, started the 30-day clock for the expiration of Roush’s pro tempore appointment. Now, her appointment will end Wednesday, Sept. 16. The court’s previous schedule ran through Thursday, Sept. 17.
McAuliffe has pledged to reappoint her, but Republican leaders have questioned the governor’s authority to do so. The two sides clash on whether the Assembly technically remains in session.
With politicians discussing potential challenges to any high court action with Roush participating, the court simply crammed its four days of oral argument into three, padding the dockets on Tuesday and Wednesday with what had been Thursday cases.
The court still plans to release its written opinions on Thursday.
Roush’s future may be growing brighter even as she faces a possible judicial hiatus. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Republicans may be less keen on replacing her with their own candidate come January.
The Republican plan to elect Court of Appeals Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. fell one vote short in the Senate on Aug. 17. McAuliffe said the Alston candidacy was a failed ploy to get McAuliffe to cancel the redistricting session.