RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A federal lawsuit to force Virginia to hold another round of House elections this November will have to survive a legal challenge from the state in March before it can go before a three-judge panel.
The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Virginia in June by attorney Paul Goldman, argues the results of last fall’s elections are invalid because they were held under legislative districts that were not updated with new census data to reflect the population shifts over the last decade.
Goldman, the former Democratic Party chairman in Virginia, seeks to have the court set one-year terms for all 100 state delegates and force Virginia to hold another round of elections under the redrawn districts. If the court sides with Goldman, the battle for control of the House of Delegates would be on the ballot three years in a row.
On Wednesday, the Virginia NAACP backed the effort and called for new elections with the approved redistricting maps.
“This is not about politics, but rather this is about upholding the fundamental rights inherent to our democratic form of government,” Robert Barnette, president of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP said in a statement.
But the lawsuit has been at a standstill since then-Attorney General Mark Herring asked the court the dismiss Goldman’s effort on procedural grounds. Herring’s office argued the state’s top officials named in the suit, including the governor, were immune to such lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge David J. Novak ruled the case could move forward against the individual members of the State Board of Elections and Virginia’s Elections Commissioner, but the attorney general’s office appealed that decision to the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in the case on March 8. If the appeals court agrees to dismiss the case, Goldman could appeal the decision. If the attorney general’s office’s appeal is denied, a three-judge panel will hear Goldman’s lawsuit.
The Virginia Supreme Court approved the maps for new congressional and state legislative districts in December after a bipartisan commission failed to get through partisan squabbling to come to an agreement on new political maps. The districts will remain in place for the next decade.
Goldman argues that the old maps used for the Nov. 2 elections violate the one-person, one-vote principle established by the U.S. Supreme Court. Goldman did not answer when 8News tried to reach him over the phone Wednesday.