RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court Thursday upheld a ruling by a lower court that dismissed a lawsuit seeking to force members of the state’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates to face an unscheduled election this year.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a three-judge U.S. District Court panel was correct when it ruled last month that Democratic Party activist Paul Goldman does not have legal standing to sue, either as a voter or a potential candidate. Neither court ruled on the merits of Goldman's lawsuit and only ruled on the issue of standing.
Goldman’s lawsuit argued House members elected for two-year terms in November 2021 must run again in 2022 under newly redrawn maps that properly align legislative districts with population shifts.
The 2021 elections were supposed to be the first held under constitutionally required redistricting based on the 2020 census. But because census results were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state held elections under the old legislative boundaries. The new maps were not finalized until December, a month after the elections were held.
Goldman said the dismissal of his lawsuit “guts the one-person, one-vote rule for millions of people.”
Two days after Goldman's lawsuit was thrown out, an author who has written extensively about Virginia politics and government filed a new lawsuit. Jeff Thomas alleges he and the other voters in his Richmond-area district have had their voting strength and political representation “unconstitutionally diluted or weakened” by the state’s failure to complete redistricting before the 2021 elections.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has said the 2021 elections were “legal and constitutional.”