RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — UPDATE (Jan. 8):
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from Virginia Republicans to block a federal court from approving new legislative district boundaries.
The order was issued Tuesday, two days ahead of a scheduled lower court hearing in Richmond on proposed new state legislative maps.
A federal judicial panel has ordered a new map after ruling that lawmakers racially gerrymandered 11 state House districts by packing black voters into them.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the case some time this year.
Republicans said having a lower court approve a new map only to have it discarded later by the Supreme Court would confuse voters and candidates.
ORIGINAL STORY (Dec. 13):
Virginia Republicans want to block a federal court from approving a new legislative map until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether it's even needed.
Speaker Kirk Cox asked the high court Thursday to delay a lower court's plans to approve a new map after a Jan. 10 hearing.
“Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case on the merits, the continued development and implementation of a remedial redistricting map only serves to cause confusion for candidates, election officials, and voters,” said Speaker Cox. “We are asking the Supreme Court to step in and stay the further development of a remedial map. It makes no sense to implement a remedial map given that the Supreme Court may uphold the legislatively-enacted map in its entirety or even just in part. If the Supreme Court upholds even just one House district, the entire process undertaken by the lower court will have to start over.”
The Supreme Court agreed last month to hear an appeal from Republicans who are trying to preserve state legislative districts that have been struck down as racially discriminatory.
A lower court is moving ahead with plans to implement a new map, and a court-appointed expert released potential maps last week for consideration.
Cox said having the lower court approve a new map only to have it discarded later by the Supreme Court would confuse voters.
A full copy of Cox's filing can be found here.