UPDATE: W.Va. Supreme Court Explains Redistricting Ruling

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

UPDATE: 2/13/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia's Supreme Court says it had no reason to second-guess the Legislature when it redrew its district boundaries.

An opinion issued Monday explains the court's November ruling that upheld the recent redistricting of the state Senate and House of Delegates.

That 4-1 ruling rejected five different petitions challenging those new maps. The petitions alleged that lawmakers failed to provide equal representation or follow other constitutional mandates when they redrew district boundaries.

Monday's 66-page opinion rejects each argument against the redistricting. Those findings led the court to conclude that it could not intervene in what is an inherently political process.

A separate challenge of the state's congressional redistricting led to a January federal court ruling against that plan. But the U.S. Supreme Court has put that ruling on hold.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


UPDATE: 1/20/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia can run its congressional races with the redistricting map recently struck down by a panel of federal judges.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts agreed to stay the judges' ruling Friday at the request of state officials.

The officials had cited the tight election timetable to urge a stay pending an appeal of the Jan. 3 decision.

West Virginia's three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are on the ballot this year. Candidate filings for all 2012 races began last week. The primary is May 8.

The Jan. 3 ruling concluded that officials failed to justify why they drew the 2nd Congressional District to include several thousand more people than the other two.

The plaintiffs who won that 2-1 decision oppose a stay.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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UPDATE: 1/10/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia officials no longer face a Jan. 17 deadline to submit a new congressional redistricting plan.

But the state also cannot conduct this year's U.S. House elections with the map struck down by last week's federal ruling.

That's the decision by the U.S. District Court panel that issued the ruling. It modified its decision on Tuesday while refusing to suspend it pending an appeal.

The judges are urging the Legislature to draw congressional districts that are more equal than those they struck down. Some lawmakers are expressing support for a new plan proposed by plaintiffs in the federal challenge.

Legislators otherwise face having to delay the certification of candidates in this year's U.S. House races. The filing period began Monday. It ends Jan. 28. The primary is May 8.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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UPDATE: 1/6/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia officials plan to appeal the federal ruling against the state's congressional redistricting plan.

Officials announced Thursday that they will petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, they will seek an immediate stay of Tuesday's U.S. District Court decision.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of federal judges concluded that lawmakers failed to provide sufficiently equal districts for the state's three U.S. House of Representatives seats. The ruling sets a Jan. 17 deadline for a new plan.

The Legislature responded to the 2010 Census results by moving Mason County from the 2nd Congressional District to the 3rd.

Jefferson County's Commission challenged the redistricting plan along with Kanawha County lawyer Thornton Cooper. They argue that the U.S. and state constitutions require more equal and compact congressional districts.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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UPDATE: 1/4/2012 6:00 P.M.
Disappointing. That's what some delegates are calling the West Virginia redistricting ruling.

A federal panel of three judges has voided the state's congressional redistricting plan.

"Very, very disappointed with the district court decision I thought that they pretty much infringed on the product of the state, the state legislature, something that we put a good bit of time and effort into.
And the plan that we came up in redistricting the three congressional districts, we thought was a good plan," explains West Virginia Delegate John Ellem.

In a two to one ruling the panel says the state's three congressional districts aren't as equal as they could be.

The judges are asking for an alternate plan from the legislature and Governor by January 17.

One delegate says the best choice now is to appeal the ruling-- saying they've already visited the alternate plans.

"Yet most of those alternate plans would, some of them would involve splitting counties some of them would involve splitting counties
some of them would involve major shifts in populations in districts," explains Delegate Ellem, "from one district to another and in one case up to 40-percent and it would also force existing incumbents in the House of Representatives to run against each other. So you know we avoided all that with our plan and you know that is why it's very disappointing."

Delegate Ellem says they're now discussing asking the district court to stay the decision pending the appeal.
He explains if they decline-- he hopes they take it to the supreme court.

"I respectfully disagree with their decision and I think that we should, you know we need to appeal it we need to stand by
the work we did and see if the United States Supreme Court will hear an appeal," explains Delegate Ellem.

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UPDATE: 1/3/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A federal panel of judges has voided West Virginia's congressional redistricting plan.

In a 2-1 ruling issued Tuesday, the judges gave the Legislature and the governor have until Jan. 17 to come up with a new plan. If they don't, the court will impose one of its own.

The judges concluded that the state's three congressional distridcts aren't as equal as they should or could have been. Their ruling says the plan violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

The decision came in lawsuit filed by the Jefferson County Commission. Kanawha County lawyer Thornton Cooper later joined the case.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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UPDATE: 12/28/2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal judges will soon decide whether West Virginia lawmakers have justified the slight change made to the state's congressional districts.

The three-judge panel heard arguments and testimony over the
recent redistricting in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

The Jefferson County Commission filed the challenge. Kanawha County lawyer Thornton Cooper later joined the case.

These plaintiffs object to the 2nd U.S. House of Representatives district. They argue it is too sprawling and overpopulated to pass constitutional muster.

The redistricting plan shifts Mason County from the 2nd District to the 3rd District. It leaves the 1st District untouched. The tweak followed the 2010 Census results.

Lawyers for legislative leaders told the judges Wednesday that the plan passed overwhelmingly, following debate over several alternatives. They say prior court rulings support the Legislature's approach.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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UPDATE: 12/28/2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal judges want West Virginia officials to explain the slight change made to the state's congressional districts.

Arguments over the redistricting challenge prompted a three-judge U.S. District Court panel to seek testimony at a Wednesday hearing.

The Jefferson County Commission filed the challenge. Kanawha County lawyer Thornton Cooper later joined the case.

These plaintiffs are focused on the 2nd U.S. House of Representatives district. They argue it is too sprawling and overpopulated to pass constitutional muster.

The redistricting plan shifts Mason County from the 2nd District to the 3rd District. It leaves the 1st District untouched. The tweak followed the 2010 Census results.

Lawyers for legislative leaders told the judges Wednesday that the plan passed overwhelmingly, following debate over several alternatives. They say prior court rulings support the Legislature's approach.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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UPDATE: 12/28/2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal judges are taking a look at the slight change made to West Virginia's congressional districts.

A three-judge U.S. District Court panel expects to hear arguments Wednesday in a pending redistricting challenge.

The Jefferson County Commission filed the case against legislative leaders and other state officials. Kanawha County attorney Thornton Cooper later joined the challenge.

Cooper and the commission focus on the 2nd U.S. House of Representatives district. They argue its shape and population violate the U.S. and West Virginia constitutions.

The new map shifts Mason County from the 2nd District to the 3rd District. It leaves the 1st District intact.

The tweak responded to the 2010 Census. The 2nd District's Eastern Panhandle led the state in population growth. The 3rd District saw the greatest decline.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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ORIGINAL STORY: 12/27/2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginians will soon begin filing as candidates for 2012, but a final challenge remains to its one of the state's new redistricting plans.

The Jefferson County Commission and a Kanawha County lawyer argue that West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District is too sprawling and populous to satisfy constitutional demands.

Legislative leaders and other state officials disagree. A three-judge U.S. District Court panel will hear from both sides on Wednesday.

The state's official candidate filing period begins Jan. 9. Congressional candidates don't have to live in the districts they seek to represent. Court filings note that would-be candidates still need to know the district boundaries as they consider political strategy.

West Virginia's Supreme Court rejected several challenges to the state's redrawn legislative maps in November.

The 2010 Census results prompted redistricting.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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