High court lets Virginia voting go ahead under redrawn map

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The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the House of Delegates did not have standing to challenge it in the first place, and upheld the lower court's decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a lawsuit in Virginia over political boundaries for its state Legislature.By a 5-4 vote - but not strictly along the usual conservative/liberal divide - the court said Virginia's House of Delegates did not have the legal right to carry on a fight over the map...

"This is likely good news for the Democratic Party in Virginia - it means that the Republican-drawn map at issue in this case can not be used in the 2019 Virginia state elections", said ABC News legal analyst Kate Shaw.

"Authority and responsibility for representing the state's interests in civil litigation, Virginia law prescribes, rest exclusively with the state's attorney general", she wrote.

Sabath: "It certainly closes the chapter on this long-standing federal litigation and from what we have seen, there is no evidence the General Assembly has any interest in revisiting the decision it made early in the 1980's to keep this industry out of Virginia". Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan agreed with Gorsuch that the mining ban was not pre-empted but said his discussions on legislative motive were "well beyond the confines of this case".

In a dissent, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr., concludes that the federal law prohibited states from banning mining as an indirect way to regulate other aspects of the uranium process, including milling and tailings.

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The timing of this decision is significant. Still, Republicans control both chambers of the legislature. The court said that Virginia would not be allowed to hold elections for those districts until they implemented a new districting plan.

The SCOTUS decision came after Virginia held its primaries last week - using maps drawn to replace the 2011 map previously deemed illegal. The House declined the court's offer to draw new maps, and the court hired an expert to do the work. A month later, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia would not appeal the decision, citing the seriousness of the constitutional violation, the low likelihood of success, and the considerable time and more than $4.5 million in taxpayer money spent by House Republicans to defend racially gerrymandered districts. Despite this, the lower court found that black voters were bunched together in districts in a manner that unconstitutionally deprived them of representation.

"Our ban on uranium mining has protected our citizens, communities, local economies, and waterways for more than 30 years, and the Supreme Court has now confirmed that we are well within our rights as a state to decide that a risky, potentially unsafe activity like uranium mining is not for us", Herring said.

The probable chances of the Republicans having continued majority and great hold on the House of the Delegates have drastically reduced after the verdict.

Herring concurred, calling it a "big win for democracy in Virginia". The House and its speaker intervened as defendants to defend the constitutionality of the challenged districts. "The Court's opinion today ends a disappointing saga of orchestrated attacks against the constitutionally-enacted redistricting plan".

Ginsburg also rejected the House's argument that it has standing to appeal in its own right.

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