- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Virginia Supreme Court has denied a petition from Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II seeking to invalidate a lower court’s ruling in a redistricting lawsuit brought against the state.

Mr. Cuccinelli had sought an order from the state's highest court declaring the Richmond City Circuit Court acted beyond its jurisdiction in ruling that the General Assembly was constitutionally obligated to reapportion the state’s congressional redistricts in 2011. But the court denied the petition for a “writ of prohibition” and declined to grant an immediate appeal after the lower court refused to dismiss the case.

The circuit court did not rule on whether the assembly had ceded the authority to approve new maps in 2012. The state legislature approved a plan earlier this month that was subsequently signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The Supreme Court said the circuit court’s ruling was not definitive enough to allow for immediate review, and declined to reach the merits of the case.

“The elected representatives of the citizens of Virginia have passed a redistricting plan through the legislative process, and we will continue to seek to protect the result of that process,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.

Because his office is challenging the jurisdictional authority of the lower court, it appointed former state Attorney General Anthony F. “Tony” Troy to argue that the circuit court does have jurisdiction in the case. Mr. Cuccinelli is also calling on the General Assembly to pass emergency legislation to move the state’s congressional primaries, currently scheduled for June, to August.

Any redistricting plan in Virginia must be pre-cleared with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The attorney general has already filed a suit for pre-clearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and plans to seek administrative pre-clearance through the DOJ to expedite the process.