“The Virginia Senate Republican Caucus remains committed to correcting the egregious hyperpartisan gerrymander that has resulted in the current tortuously drawn Senate districts,” Mr. Norment said in a statement released through the caucus.
Those same districts, however, allowed Republicans to gain two previously Democratic Senate seats in the 2011 legislative elections and reduce what had been a Democratic majority to 20-20 parity. Despite the even split, Republicans seized operational Senate control through the tie-breaking vote of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican who presides over Senate floor sessions.
In the poisoned partisan aftermath of the Jan. 21 ambush by Senate Republicans, Democrats said the action not only violated legislative precedents and decorum as well as a 2004 state constitutional amendment limiting redistricting to once every biennium in years ending with the numeral 1. They guaranteed a court challenge and signaled retaliatory blockades of Republican transportation and budget initiatives. They made good on the threat as recently as Tuesday night.
Mr. Howell said he was pressured within his party to let the amendment pass muster, but in the end felt bound to uphold the honor of House rules that make speakers the guardians of legislative integrity and fair play.
“There were a lot of people who wanted me to rule that the amendment was germane,” Mr. Howell said. But rooting interests, he said, are secondary to consistently safeguarding the principle that prevents a bill from becoming a Trojan horse to achieve aims far different from its initial purpose without the House being aware of them.
“My sole question was not on whether the plan was good, not whether the process by which it got there was good, but whether it was compatible with our established rules on the interpretation of what’s germane,” Mr. Howell said.
House Clerk G. Paul Nardo pulled germaneness rulings that Mr. Howell had made since he became speaker in 2003, and Mr. Howell said he studied them in reaching his decision. “I’ve tried to be, pretty consistently, tight in my interpretations,” he said.
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
A collection of communities writers columns on Benghazi
Positive propaganda for a nation in peril.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc