West Virginia files high court appeal over challenged voting map
January 13th, 2012
07:00 PM ET
3 years ago

West Virginia files high court appeal over challenged voting map

Washington (CNN) – West Virginia's legislative leaders have asked the US. Supreme Court to allow the state's new voting district map to stay in place.

An emergency appeal was filed late Friday with Chief Justice John Roberts, seeking to overturn a lower federal court's January 3 decision that the Congressional boundaries were unconstitutional.

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West Virginia lawmakers– backed by the state attorney general– said in their time-sensitive appeal that crafting a new map would be time-consuming, expensive, and cause "irreparable harm."

A three-judge panel concluded the new Congressional lines did not provide equal representation in the US House of Representatives. Republicans David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito hold two of three congressional seats, with Democrat Nick Rahall serving the other. The court gave the legislature until Jan. 17 to submit an interim redistricting plan, or the panel said it would craft its own plan.

West Virginia's Congressional redistricting plan was approved by large margins in both the state Senate and the House of Delegates, then signed into law by Gov. Earl Tomblin (D). It then became the first plan to be completely rejected by the courts.

It was unclear when Roberts would rule. He has the option of asking his eight colleagues to weigh in on the matter. The state urged the high court to act quickly, since candidate filings started this week, even though the Congressional boundaries are still in limbo. The filing deadline is January 28. The primary is set for May 8.

Depending how quickly the dispute can be settled, the state could hold their primary at a later date as a special election; use the existing boundaries crafted after the 2000 census; or try to adopt a new plan through the legislature. The state said each of those three options were not workable.

All states are required to redo their voting boundaries following the recently completed nationwide census, conducted once every 10 years.

The West Virginia dispute comes on the heels of a challenge to the map crafted by Texas legislators, which was also rejected by a federal court. The Supreme Court heard arguments in that case Monday, and a ruling on Texas could establish important guidelines for other states. There are about 30 court cases nationwide dealing with challenges to legislative boundaries.

The high court appeal is Tennant v. Jefferson County Commission (11A674).

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Filed under: 2012 • Supreme Court • West Virginia
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    How much cash is the Republican Party paying John Roberts (under the table, un-traceable, of course)?

    January 13, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. Liz the First

    Redistricting, if necessary, should be determined by a non-partisan committee, not by the ruling partty, whose only motivation is to create a permanent majority. this is not democracy, no matter which party is doing it.

    January 13, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. Larry L

    States need to simply quit jerrymandering their districts. Does anybody really think it's honest for the controlling political party to create ridiculous boundaries to give themselves unfair advantage? Is democracy about Democrats and Republicans or more about the American people getting a fair chance to elect leaders to represent them?

    January 13, 2012 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  4. Mike in Texas

    Gerrymandering has been going on for decades. Both sides are guilty. The congressional maps are a joke. What people should be more alarmed about are the voter ID laws being enacted or trying to be. These laws were passed not to weed out voter fraud (like the supporters say), but rather to suppress certain groups from voting. Those being suppressed are the elderly, minorities and younger voters. The claim of voter fraud is one of the most absurd arguments.

    January 14, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  5. GI Joe

    Roberts? Isn't he the republican that thinks he was made God of America? I have religious difference with him. I don't think he is God.

    January 14, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |