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Court denies redistricting stay as Assembly meets

(AP) A federal court has rejected a request from Virginia Republicans to extend an October deadline to complete a state-level redistricting process until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the case.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied the request in an Aug. 30 order as lawmakers reviewed House of Delegates district maps at the state Capitol.

The court ordered lawmakers in June to redraw the state’s legislative map by Oct. 30 after it found that some districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Republicans are appealing the ruling and had wanted the deadline put on hold.

The court wrote that delaying work on a remedial plan would likely result in the 2019 elections proceeding under unconstitutional districts and would likely cause irreparable injury to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who are Virginia voters.

A spokesman for GOP House Speaker Kirk Cox didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier the same day, Republicans who control the House say a Democratic plan to fix what a federal court found were unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts is a partisan power grab with no chance of passage.

Lawmakers sparred over the Democrats’ proposal on the first day of a special session. Gov. Ralph Northam called the session so lawmakers can comply with the court’s order to redraw the legislative map.

The court found lawmakers illegally packed black voters into certain districts to make surrounding districts whiter and more Republican.

A committee held a hearing on the Democrats’ proposed maps but took no action to advance or amend them. Lawmakers adjourned without setting another meeting date, leaving next steps unclear.

Democrats say Republicans, who are appealing the court’s ruling, are trying to stall.

 

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