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January 24, 2013


Stephen Spiker

I disagree that the House is worsely gerrymandered than the Senate. The Senate, having only 40 districts, is a lot more subject to things like divvying up inside-the-Beltway precincts to 5-6 districts. With 100 districts, there's a lot less opportunity to manipulate outside maybe grabbing a neighboring precinct and dropping a bad one. With 100, it's also a lot more representative of the state.

I think the reason why the House is so out of balance is because 2009 and 2011 were good years for us politically, and were such bad years for Democrats that they didn't or couldn't run competitive elections in many districts, which was compounded by how late the new lines were released.

David C.F. Ray

Of course the House is hyper-partisanly redistricted. So what? The current Senate lines are ALSO drawn to maximize partisan benefit to the Democrats. There isn't a state legislative body in the U.S., where lines are drawn by the legislators themselves, where this is not the case, i.e., to the benefit of the majority party.

The ONLY point Chris has, and with which I completely agree, is that we lose any credibility (as do the Democrats) when we howl when the Democrats do it to us. Both sides (whenever they are in the minority) ALWAYS scream unfairness, or corruption, or discrimination, or unconstitutionality, or some other crime against humanity or democracy whenever a partisan political body redistricts in favor of the majority party.

The real culprit here is, of course, one-man, one-vote. Once you go down THAT road, as we've been compelled to do by the Supreme Court for the last 50 years, then legislative districts become nothing more than arbitrary subsets of a state.

As long as every House of Delegates district has as many people as every OTHER House of Delegates district, what difference does it make from a one-man, one-vote perspective? The answer, of course, is none.

The same applies to State Senate districts -- any arbitrary subdivision of Virginia into 40 equally populated subsets (internally contiguous, of course) is JUST as constitutional as any OTHER random subdivision into 40 equal pieces. So a GOP-friendly redistricting is JUST as acceptable as a Democrat-friendly one.

Want more proof that one-man, one vote is the bad guy here? Prior to 1971, guess how many Virginia legislative districts included only PART of a county or city? If you guess a number greater than zero, you've guessed too high.

So, no -- I have NO problem, morally or ethically, with what the State Senate did on Monday.

Sen. Marsh is a big boy. He's been in the Senate since 1992 -- 21 years. By all accounts, he was a pioneer litigator -- so he should WELL understand how this game is played. He left town to attend Barack Obama's 2nd inauguration (did he miss the first one?) when he KNEW the Senate was split 20-20. Did he somehow FORGET the GOP would have a numerical majority in his absence? He knew the risks, and he left his Democrat colleagues the victims in his absence. HE'S the one Dick Saslaw should take to the woodshed.

And believe me -- Dick Saslaw isn't pissed over the unfairness. He's pissed at losing his power -- nothing more and nothing less. THAT'S the unmentioned hypocrisy here. ANYONE who voted to implement George Barker's district lines and Barbara Favola's district lines (and we all know both Dick Saslaw and Henry Marsh did JUST that) has NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO room to complain now -- AT ALL!!!

Politically, on the other hand, this is a bit of a high risk move. First of all, we don't know that Bob McDonnell will have the stones to sign this bill -- this is a no brainer -- sign the fracking bill! (By the way, let's not forget that the ONLY reason Bob is nervous about signing this bill is it might imperil his transportation tax INCREASE!)

Second, imagining Bob remembers he's a REPUBLICAN and signs the bloody thing, there will absolutely be lawsuits.

The once-a-decade redistricting issue is ludicrous. The once-a-decade redistricting already DID occur -- but that's no bar to doing it every cycle as new Census estimates become available. Unless the constitution expressly FORBIDS it, then doing this every session is perfectly constitutional. (Not necessarily wise, but certainly constitutional.)

The Voting Rights Act challenge is tricky -- it creates another black seat, thus seeming to call the NAACP's bluff. But you never know if a judge will say that this amounts to "packing" black voters unconstitutionally, thus having the effect of diluting black voter influence in Virginia. Cases historically have gone both ways, so this is really just a crap shoot. Best case scenario, the GOP spends an insane amount of money on litigation and wins in the U.S. Supreme Court. More likely is that the GOP spends an insane amount of money on litigation and wins in the 4th Circuit and the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case. Worst case scenario, of course, is that the GOP spends an insane amount of money on litigation and LOSES in the U.S. Supreme Court. More likely is that the GOP spends an insane amount of money on litigation and LOSES in the 4th Circuit (the Obama Administration has had a TERRIBLE impact on the 4th Circuit, so this is more than possible), and the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case.

So politically, this was fairly high risk -- in court. NO ONE votes against an incumbent over unfair redistricting -- so that is a non-political issue.

Was this move unfair? Not cricket? Sure! But was this move immoral? Unethical? Inappropriate? Not a chance!


This actually answered my problem, thank you!

i left the republican party because of people like David Ray

if David Ray is for it I am against it


The House gerrymandering is a disaster and a monstrosity, anyone who argues that the Senate is worse is putting their blinders on and only looking at the way the Senate Dems cut up Northern Virginia. Look downstate and you'll see the Republicans did the same. This is good for the GOP in the short term because it helps eliminate up and coming Democratic candidates. But I worry about things blowing up down the line.

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