U.S. Supreme Court approves stay in West Virginia congressional redistricting case

By westvirginia on January 20, 2012
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By Steven Allen Adams | West Virginia Watchdog

CHARLESTON — The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of a lower court’s ruling against West Virginia’s congressional redistricting plan, meaning the current plan will stay put while lawmakers appeal the earlier ruling.

Chief Justice John Roberts issued the ruling this morning. Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall), House Speaker Rick Thompson (D-Wayne), Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant filed the stay last Friday.

“The application for stay presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted, and it is ordered that the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia…is stayed pending the timely filing and disposition of an appeal to this Court,” the order said.

A three-judge federal panel ruled two weeks ago that the state’s congressional redistricting plan passed last summer violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. That plan moved Mason County from the 2nd Congressional District to the 3rd Congressional District.

“The position of the Legislature has been upheld on this interim basis at least,” Kessler said. “It would appear at least for the immediate basis that the election that will go forward will be conducted with the plan we adopted.”

State officials sought a stay from the lower court last week while an appeal was filed with the Supreme Court. Instead, the panel denied the stay, lifted a Jan. 17 deadline for the Legislature to pass a more equal plan, and prohibited the state from conducting the 2012 congressional election under the original plan.

The Jefferson County Commission filed suit last year against the redistricting plan, citing population differences between each district and the continued break-up of the Eastern Panhandle, which gained population according to the 2010 Census.

With the Supreme Court stay in hand, election officials can now plan the 2012 election under the current congressional redistricting plan. 1st District Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va), 2nd District Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and 3rd District Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) are all running for reelection. The filing deadline is next Saturday, Jan. 28, at midnight.

The stay also means that state officials have a good chance of winning a full appeal.

“For a stay to be granted, you normally have to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” Kessler said. “Reading into that it’s not an absolute guarantee, but it’s some assurance that the work we passed previously is solid.”

Read the order below or click here:

U.S. Supreme Court approves stay in West Virginia congressional redistricting case

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Posted under Congress, Elections, Featured, Federal, Governor, House of Delegates, Legislature, News, Redistricting, Secretary of State, State Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Supreme Court, West Virginia.
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